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Archives - November 2003

November 28, 2003

"Trash-Talking Landfill Safety" - "Los Angeles County public health official Paul Simon just reported that he was unable to link health problems with a local landfill at the center of a not-in-my-backyard (NIMBY) controversy.

Oddly enough, Simon said that the finding doesn’t mean the landfill is safe and that more testing is needed." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

November 26, 2003

"New laws target increase in acts of ecoterrorism" - "They seek to curb arson, property damage, and threats of violence, but critics say the penalties stifle valid dissent." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"Green Civil War" - "Wind power may well be the least environmentally-friendly idea ever proposed by environmentalists. That certainly seems to be the verdict of those who live near proposed and actual wind farm developments in both the US and UK.

Conservationists as committed as Sen. Edward Kennedy (D.-Mass.) and British television personality Dr. David Bellamy have come out against proposed uses of the technology. As a result, a degree of civil war has broken out in the environmental movement, with accusations of "NIMBYism" (the acronym refers to an aversion to new infrastructure projects, standing for Not In My Back Yard) flying around. One might even say that the controversy is generating a great deal of hot air." (Iain Murray, TCS)

"Earth's current warming trend 'unusual'" - "UA researcher finds new info on climate changes. For the last 30 years, many scholars believed that people in medieval times experienced a global warming period like the one being experienced today, but one UA researcher says that might not be true. Dendrochronolgy professor Malcolm Hughes said that there is not enough evidence to prove that the Earth is as warm today as it was 900 years ago. By using tree rings, ice cores, corral reefs and other natural elements that can determine fluctuation in the Earth's climate, he concluded that parts of the world experienced a warming trend, but the Earth as a whole might not have. "Something is definitely unusual about Earth's climate today," Hughes said. "At the moment, the prime suspect is greenhouse gases." (Arizona Daily Wildcat)

From CO2 Science Magazine this week:

"A 2000-Year Record of a Second 'Big Chunk of China'" - "This follow-on to our first "big chunk of China" editorial (19 Nov 2003) produces even more nails to drive into the coffin of the climate-alarmist claim that temperatures of the latter part of the 20th century were unprecedented over approximately the last 2000 years." (co2science.org)

Subject Index Summaries:
"Rapid Climate Change (Biological Systems)" - "If it ever were to occur, would earth's plants and animals be able to cope with the type of rapid climate change that climate alarmists are forever claiming could result from continued increases in the air's CO2 content?" (co2science.org)

"Deserts (Higher Plants -- Stress Reduction by CO2)" - "Environmental stresses are everywhere: high temperatures, low temperatures, too much water, too little water, insufficient nutrients and so forth.  Fortunately, the ongoing rise in the air's CO2 content helps desert vegetation to better cope with these life-threatening challenges." (co2science.org)

Plant Growth Data:
"This week we add new results (blue background) of plant growth responses to atmospheric CO2 enrichment obtained from experiments described in the peer-reviewed scientific literature for: Chapman's Oak, Loblolly Pine, Quaking Aspen, Sand Live Oak and Understory Deciduous Trees." (co2science.org)

Journal Reviews:
"Extreme Weather Events and Global Warming" - "A respected Canadian scientist chides the World Meteorological Organization for saying extreme weather events are increasing in tandem with global warming." (co2science.org)

"Water Level History of the U.S. Great Lake Michigan-Huron System" - "Does it support the doom-and-gloom scenario that is broadcast to the world by climate alarmists?" (co2science.org)

"Interannual Fluctuations of the Air's CO2 Concentration" - "What causes them?  And why do we care?" (co2science.org)

"The Effect of Elevated CO2 on Methane Emissions from Rice" - "Do higher atmospheric CO2 concentrations increase or decrease CH4 emissions from paddy rice?  The search for a definitive answer continues." (co2science.org)

"Do Environmental Stresses Affect Plant Responses to Atmospheric CO2 Enrichment?" - "If scientists are debating the issue, which is readily resolved by experiment, any differences cannot be too large.  Or can they be?  And in what direction?" (co2science.org)

"Forum serves food for thought: Scientists discuss food modification in respect to population boom" - "By the year 2050, there will be 9 billion humans inhabiting the world – a population that will require a 100 percent increase in the production of food to stave of starvation. A symposium on Friday entitled "Foods for the Future," organized by UCLA Extension in collaboration with the David Geffen School of Medicine, addressed this issue among others concerning the bioengineering of food. "This symposium is geared to educating the university community and the public about trying to improve plants for human health and nutrition," said Robert Goldberg, co-coordinator and professor in the department of molecular, cell and developmental biology at UCLA." (Daily Bruin)

"Development of genetically improved pineapples is under way" - "HONOLULU -- Hawaii's pineapple industry is pushing ahead with efforts to engineer a better pineapple genetically, though a commercial version might be five or six years away. The University of Hawaii, which is working on the project with the Hawaii Agriculture Research Center, recently received federal approval to conduct open-field trials of a pineapple modified with genes from rice. But creating a heartier pineapple is proving more difficult than past experiments that created papayas genetically modified to resist the ringspot virus." (The Honolulu Advertiser)

"Brazilian state challenges Parana GMO crops ban" - "SAO PAULO, Brazil, Nov 25 - Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil's No. 5 soy-producing state, legally challenged a Parana state government law banning the planting and sale of transgenic crops in Parana, the Supreme Court said on Tuesday. The move marks the second legal challenge to the ban, following one brought by the rightist Liberal Front Party earlier this month. The court said in a statement that Mato Grosso do Sul sought an urgent ruling to suspend the ban by Parana state, Brazil's No. 2 soy producer, pending a definitive legal judgment. On Oct. 27, Parana state governor Roberto Requiao approved a state law banning the transport of genetically modified crops across Parana as well as their import or export through the port of Paranagua. Mato Grosso do Sul said the Parana ban infringed constitutional rights of freedom, free competition, private property and free circulation of people and goods." (Reuters)

"Brazil AgMin seizes 8,200 T illegal GM soy seed" - "SAO PAULO, Brazil, Nov 25 - Agents from Brazil's Agriculture Ministry seized 8,200 tonnes of illegal genetically modified (GM) soybean seeds from 10 seed producers in Rio Grande do Sul state, the ministry said on Tuesday. "The sale of the product is illegal," Jose Ribamar Costa, chief of the ministry's vegetable safety service in the No. 3 soy producing state Rio Grande do Sul, said in a statement. It was the ministry's first announcement of a seizure of illegal GM soybean seeds." (Reuters)

"Europe Gropes for Consensus on GMO Crops" - "LONDON - Europe struggled to reach common ground on genetically modified (GM) crops Tuesday, with Britain's top adviser unable to provide clear guidelines for their use in the U.K. while an upcoming EU vote to lift a five-year ban on biotech products is too close to call." (Reuters)

"GM Crops can and should Co-Exist in the UK: It’s time to give UK consumers and farmers the right to choose" - "November 25th 2003. abc today welcomed the central conclusion of the long awaited AEBC report into co-existence of GM and non-GM crops that states:

“The main aim of Government policy on co-existence of GM and other crops must be to facilitate consumer choice to the greatest possible extent, while allowing UK farmers to respond to present and future national and international market demand.”

The report goes on to state that if sensible guidelines are followed, there are no reasons whatsoever why GM, non-GM and organic crops should not be able to co-exist to the mutual benefit of the economy, the environment and consumer choice and that no one form of agriculture should have the power of veto over another." (Agricultural Biotechnology Council)

"UK's Top Policy Advisor Divided Over GM Crops" - "LONDON - Britain's chief policy advisor on genetically modified (GM) food and crops has failed in a long-awaited report to agree on key issues governing any future of the technology, making tougher a government decision on gene-spliced crops." (Reuters)

"Report warns of risks posed by GM crops: Ministers told farmers must get cash for contamination" - "A government-backed fund must be set up to compensate farmers who lose money because their crops are contaminated by GM varieties, before commercial growing of the crops is permitted, the government's official advisers said yesterday. The Biotechnology Commission said the government should ensure that the consumer continued to have the choice to buy British-produced non-GM food. This would mean having legally enforceable distances between GM crops and conventional crops, to make sure cross contamination remained below the 0.9% threshold set by the EU. Above that level, food must be labelled as having GM ingredients." (The Guardian)

November 25, 2003

Today's crock: "Sugary foods 'birth defect risk'" - "Eating sugary or highly processed foods during pregnancy may increase the risk of birth defects, research suggests." (BBC News Online)

Uh-oh! "More Mothers Are Breast-Feeding Longer, Survey Shows" - "The number of women who start breast-feeding in the hospital and who are still nursing six months later is at an all-time high." (New York Times)

Mothers breast-feeding longer, burgeoning obesity epidemic... how long before we see the headline: "Extended breast-feeding, obesity linked"?

This nonsense again? "Scientists discover toxic cocktail in our bodies" - "Most people are contaminated with a cocktail of potentially harmful man-made chemicals, the environmental pressure group WWF-UK says." (Independent)

Aha! Urban planning does cause obesity! "Urban black bears becoming couch potatoes, study says" - "Black bears living in and around urban areas are up to a third less active and weigh up to thirty percent more than bears living in wild areas, according to a recent study by scientists from the Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)." (Wildlife Conservation Society)

We demand urgent address of this bear obesity epidemic! (See! Even bears catch fat!) Bear traffic must be curtailed to force bears to walk to local shops. (Bear malls must be banned!) We need more bear cycling tracks, bear sports facilities... but wait! It's not urban planning after all, it's Fast-Food Nation Is Taking Its Toll on Black Bears, Too (New York Times)

"Does shade coffee help or hinder conservation?" - "?While shade coffee is promoted as protecting tropical forests and birds, conservationists are split on whether it actually works. The December issue of Conservation Biology has the latest on the debate: one side says shade coffee can give farmers a reason to preserve tropical biodiversity while the other side fears it can actually encourage farmers to clear more forest." (Society for Conservation Biology)

"Endangered species listings may backfire" - "New research confirms fears that Endangered Species Act listings do not necessarily help – and may even harm – rare species on private lands. Since the Preble's jumping mouse was listed as threatened, the landowners in the study have degraded as much habitat as they have enhanced, and most oppose the biological surveys that are critical for conserving species." (Society for Conservation Biology)

"Another Environmentalist Bromide" - "Environmentalism has never been more predictable than it is today. Left-leaning activists and environmental journalists reflexively turn every green issue into a formulaic "Bush administration rollback" story, often with little regard for the facts and history of the issue. So it is with the much-criticized administration attempt to obtain exemptions for farmers who wish to use the chemical methyl bromide beyond its 2005 phaseout deadline. In truth, these exemptions will help prevent significant hardship for thousand of farmers and their customers, and will do so without any discernable threat to the environment." (Ben Lieberman, TCS)

"Plan Gives Farmers a Role in Fighting Global Warming" - "MANHATTAN, Kan. — In an unlikely alliance, Kansas Republicans and the advocacy group Environmental Defense are supporting an effort here that seeks to use agriculture as a weapon against global warming. While the Bush administration and some Republican lawmakers have expressed skepticism about human causes of global warming, Senator Pat Roberts, a Kansas Republican and an ardent supporter of President Bush, has helped Kansas State University win part of a $15 million grant for a group of institutions to study whether a form of farming called "conservation tillage" can really help combat the effects of global warming." (New York Times)

"Go slower on Kyoto: PetroCan" - "MONTREAL—The chief executive of Petro-Canada says he hopes incoming prime minister Paul Martin will slow Canada's implementation of the Kyoto accord, a multinational agreement for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. "I'm encouraged by the conversations I've had with our new prime minister on this topic," Ron Brenneman said in a speech yesterday to a Canadian Club lunch in Montreal. "Paul Martin is clearly committed to the environment and to action on climate change. But he also understands how critical it is to foster private-sector innovation here in Canada to address these daunting challenges." (Canadian Press)

"First major UK offshore wind farm switches on" - "LONDON - Electricity from the UK's first major offshore wind farm flowed ashore on Friday, welcomed by Prime Minister Tony Blair, power utilities and environmental groups as a major step forward in renewable energy." (Reuters)

"FAO reports setback in war on hunger" - "ROME, Nov 25 - The United Nations food body on Tuesday announced a serious blow to the war on world hunger, saying the number of undernourished had risen and that a goal to halve hunger by 2015 looked increasingly remote. The number of hungry people around the world increased by 18 million to 842 million in the latest reporting period 1999-2001 from 1995-1997, the Rome-based U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said in its annual hunger report. "FAO's latest estimates signal a setback in the war against hunger," the food agency said in the report entitled "The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2003". FAO said the total of 842 million people included 798 million in developing countries, 10 million in industrialised countries and 34 million in countries in transition. FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf said the number of hungry people in the developing world appeared to be climbing." (Reuters)

"Organic, key element of CAP's future?" - "A key feature of Europe’s drive towards sustainable agriculture is the push for organic farming, crystallised in the recent reform to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) said EU commissioner Franz Fischler this week. In the UK, farmers continue to bail out from the industry." (FoodNavigator.com)

"Heart-Helping Biotech Miracles" - "Did you ever think that the leading cause of death in this country could be prevented with a genetically-engineered bacterium? Well start thinking, because that's where that "Drano for the arteries" that you probably heard about came from. And it's merely a harbinger of how biotechnology is revolutionizing heart therapy.

About 25 years ago, scientists discovered that some people in northern Italy had a remarkably low rate of heart disease – and no, it had nothing to do with drinking red wine. Rather they had a special protein from a genetic mutation that gave them a particularly efficient form of HDL (or "good cholesterol") that strips from arteries the gunk known as plaque.

As the science developed of removing individual genes from one organism and splicing them into another, researchers found they could insert this mutant gene into bacterium and grow all that special protein they needed." (Michael Fumento, Scripps Howard News Service)

"Debate on GM crops 'beset by confusion' - Use of farm chemicals needs more examination, says top scientist" - "The results of the farm-scale trials of GM crops have been misrepresented, with those for and against the technology wrongly claiming victory, Lord May, president of the Royal Society, said yesterday. What the results actually showed, he said, was that the more herbicide farmers used on crops, the worse it was for wild plants and animals and the more the countryside suffered. What was really needed was a debate on modern farming methods and what kind of countryside Britain wanted." (The Guardian)

"GM warriors have killed the debate" - "As the government's advisers on GM crops meet today to discuss the results of the GM farm trials, advocates on both sides of the GM propaganda war should be hanging their heads in shame.

Publication last month of Europe's largest study of the impact of intensive agriculture on wildlife should have sparked renewed debate on how we can use the technologies of the 21st century to make farming more sustainable. Instead, with the battle lines drawn well in advance, many of the protagonists presented a biased and selective summary of the results, digging further into their trenches and leaving the public caught in a confusing crossfire." (Robert May, The Guardian)

Um... actually Bob, the trials clearly demonstrated that more effective use of herbicides gives better weed control. (No, duh!) The Trojan Horse introduced into the "debate" is "farm-/crop-land diversity" although there is no compelling reason to suspect that the smallest, most productive and near-pure monoculture crop, (thus leaving the maximum "wild" area possible as wildlife habitat while still producing the desired profitable crop), imperils wildlife any more than some less-pure (more weed-infested and hence less-productive) technique requiring greater land area in production to achieve the same net product. What's the problem here? Higher productivity = more space left for wildlife, no?

"Head to head: GM crops debate" - "The results of the first environmental-impact study of genetically modified crops has found the cultivation of two crops to be more harmful to many groups of wildlife than their conventional equivalents. The production of a third plant was shown to be kinder to other plants and animals than the normal crop. BBC News Online asked for opinions from opposite sides of the debate." (BBC Online)

"Divided EU to make second attempt to lift GMO ban" - "BRUSSELS, Nov 25 - EU countries will soon take a second bite at lifting a five-year ban on new biotech crops and products, renewing their debate on a type of sweetcorn that may provide the key to unlocking a bitter transatlantic trade row. Despite fierce consumer opposition to genetically modified organisms (GMOs), the European Commission will put the issue to a vote in two weeks -- hoping to win its long-awaited showdown against a small but powerful group of GM-sceptic states." (Reuters)

"Co-existence of GM and non GM crops in the UK can occur without problems, says new research paper" - "24 November 2003 PG Economics Ltd today announced the release of its latest research paper on GM and non GM crop co-existence – Co-existence of GM and non GM crops: case study of the UK" (Press release)

"[Australasia] Largest user of canola oil goes GE-free" - "One of New Zealand's biggest food companies, Goodman Fielder, has taken a stand against genetic engineering. The company -- which makes Vogels bread and MeadowLea margarine -- joins Australasian food heavyweights Heinz Watties and Unilever in the green (non-GE) section of the Greenpeace GE-Free Food Guide." (NZPA)

November 24, 2003

"Soldiers to sue over new Gulf War syndrome" - "Dozens of soldiers who served in Iraq are to sue the Government, claiming they are suffering from a new form of Gulf War syndrome. Multiple vaccinations given in the run-up to the conflict are being blamed for chronic pains, stomach problems, rashes, swelling, fever, depression and anxiety. Lawyers and medical experts say the symptoms are identical to those which affected thousands of veterans after the 1991 Gulf conflict." (The Observer)

"Fat and Frightened" - "The Blair government is about to get tough on obesity in children. An emergency salt summit is being held. The hounds of hysteria are baying loudly. The Observer grimly observed "Official: fat epidemic will cut life expectancy." This catchy prediction is a theoretical calculation that flies in the face of easily observable facts. The increase in weight observed in the UK and other western nations is not correctly described as an 'epidemic'. It has been going on steadily for about 50 years as life expectancy has steadily increased." (Dale Atrens, TCS)

"Sudden rise in BSE alarms scientists - 49 new cases in past year could be from feed contamination" - "Scientists are considering new checks on the cattle disease BSE after an unexpected rise in cases among animals supposedly free from infection. Strict rules banning the recycling of livestock in feed to other farm animals are meant to eventually eradicate the disastrous disease, which has still unquantified consequences for human health. But the growing number of cattle succumbing to the disease even though they were born after the August 1996 watershed for feed rules in Britain is troubling experts. It may delay any decision on whether to relax another 1996 ban, on cattle meat from British animals over 30 months old being used in food." (The Guardian)

Uh-huh... "Ozone layer 'sacrificed' to lift re-election prospects" - "President George Bush has brought the international treaty aimed at repairing the Earth's vital ozone layer close to breakdown, risking millions of cancers, to benefit strawberry and tomato growers in the electorally critical state of Florida, The Independent on Sunday can reveal." (Independent on Sunday)

Seems introducing a physical tabloid format merely completes The Indy's transformation - next week "Aliens ate my grandmother" or similar?

"After 200 Years of Growth, Level of Methane Stabilizes" - "After a 200-year rise driven mainly by human activities, atmospheric levels of methane, the second most important greenhouse gas, have stopped growing, scientists are reporting. Climate experts said the stabilization of methane, though probably temporary, is important evidence that steps to curb emissions could slow global warming even as disputes persist over what to do about carbon dioxide, the dominant greenhouse gas." (New York Times)

"The Air Up There - Is It Hotter?" - "If human activities are having a dramatic effect on globally-averaged temperature, then the temperature in the low atmosphere would be rising at a rate faster than at the Earth's surface. A flurry of recent studies continues to round out the picture and suggests that alarmism about catastrophic anthropogenic global warming is more hype than scientific fact.

The best analysis of air temperature over the last 25 years is based on measurements made from satellites and checked with information from weather balloons. That work, conducted by J. Christy and R. Spencer at the University of Alabama at Huntsville (UAH), shows a small global warming trend. Even if the small trend were entirely human-caused -- an unlikely possibility because temperature exhibits many naturally-caused changes -- it contradicts the forecasts of extreme, human-made global warming.

It's not surprising, then, that the satellite measurements are intensely studied and debated." (Sallie Baliunas, TCS)

"Institutional investors can alter greenhouse gas emissions, Annan says" - "21 November – Institutional investors can have "a decisive impact" on future greenhouse gas emissions and the environmental performance of major companies, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan told a gathering of senior financial and corporate figures in New York today. Global warming could have serious consequences for businesses and investor budgets - and not just for the environment itself - unless the world "mounts a sufficient response," Mr. Annan told the Institutional Investors Summit on Climate Risk." (UN News)

"Pension Funds Plan to Press Global Warming as an Issue" - "Officials controlling some of the nation's largest pension funds announced plans yesterday to press regulators, public companies and Wall Street to pay more heed to the potential financial upheaval from climate change. They said that their effort would be coordinated through a new group, the Investor Network on Climate Risk." (New York Times)

"In Post-Kyoto World, Regional Emissions Pacts May Rule" - "WASHINGTON — If Russia withdraws from the Kyoto Protocol — as many predict — the political landscape at next month's meeting on the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change could reflect a growing number of regional groups committed to forging their own paths toward emissions control, an environmental policy expert at the World Resources Institute said yesterday." (UN Wire)

"No way out" - "Matthew Collin finds beauty, but little comfort, in This Overheating World, a collection of reportage loosely based around the threat of global warming" (The Guardian)

"Emissions breakthrough for coal industry" - "A NEW Queensland research centre has developed a revolutionary method of stripping the harmful carbon emissions from the production of coal-generated energy. The Centre for Low Emissions Technology, which was officially opened on Friday, hopes to eventually make the method cost-effective enough to be used in coal energy production worldwide." (The Courier-Mail)

"All Talk, No Action From World NGOs" - "They think they're great, the United Nations thinks they're great, the World Bank says it can't work without consulting them and their critics are afraid that they're much too powerful. They are the internationally registered nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and they are becoming a well-funded and worldwide political force commanding the eyes and ears of governments everywhere." (John M. Powers, Insight)

"Produce Becoming Increasing Source for Food Illnesses" - "Scientists and some officials say demand for fresh produce year-round is leading to an increase in imports from countries with less stringent sanitary standards." (New York Times)

"Farmers, key to a secure food future?" - "Tropical regions could enjoy secure food supplies over the next fifty years if local smallholder farmers are helped to help themselves, says a university of East Anglia development expert writing in this week's journal Science. Professor Michael Stocking acknowledges that soil degradation is rife in some areas and that around a billion people currently lack food security, but he questions the bleak picture of the future of tropical soils and food security often painted by environmentalists and campaigners." (NutraIngredients.com)

"Using Genetically Modified Organisms Could Be a Duty, Says Bioethicist, If They Pose Opportunity for Development" - "ROME, NOV. 21, 2003 - If genetically modified organisms represent an opportunity for development, especially for poor countries, it might be a moral duty to disseminate them, says a bioethicist. Father Gonzalo Miranda, dean of the School of Bioethics of the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical Athenaeum, expressed this idea last week when addressing the symposium held at the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, on "Genetically Modified Organisms and the Social Doctrine of the Church." In an interview with ZENIT, Father Miranda spoke about the function that biotechnology might have in the development of the poorer countries and emphasized that "the Church invites us to go beyond mere justice and equity and undertake the path of solidarity." "If GMOs represent a real opportunity to foster the development of all countries, especially the neediest, it would be a real moral and solidaristic duty to favor their dissemination," he said. "To block them a priori in virtue of merely ideological postures or disgraceful economic interests would not only be a lack of solidarity but also a grave injustice," the priest noted." (Zenit.org)

"Gene-Altering Revolution Nears the Pet Store: Glow-in-the-Dark Fish" - "The genetically engineered pet appears to have arrived.

In a development that is likely to inspire both fascination and alarm, a Texas company said yesterday that it would soon start selling a genetically engineered aquarium fish that glows in the dark.

The GloFish, as it is called, is a zebra fish containing a gene from a sea coral that makes the fish bright red under normal light and fluorescent under ultraviolet light. Zebra fish, about an inch and a half long, are normally silver and black.

The company selling the fish, Yorktown Technologies, of Austin, calls the fish "a miracle of science" and said sales would begin Jan. 5 through pet stores.

Genetic engineering of animals has until now been performed mainly for scientific research or medical purposes, for instance to make mice that get a certain disease. Making glow-in-the-dark fish extends the technology into the realm of human amusement, which might raise some eyebrows. Indeed, an artist who made a glow-in-the-dark rabbit a few years ago as an artwork attracted criticism for undermining the dignity of life for trivial purposes.

Some environmental groups, led by the Center for Food Safety in Washington, are trying to delay the sale of the fish for another reason, saying it should first be reviewed by federal regulators. The groups say the fish might enter natural waterways if people dump out their aquariums and upset the natural balance in ecosystems." (New York Times)

November 21, 2003

"Ballistic Over Botox" - "Hollywood housewife Irena Medavoy claims her treatments with wrinkle-reducer Botox ruined her health. Though her claim seems unlikely, we’ll probably never know whether or not it has merit. A jury may decide the claim’s fate at a trial tentatively scheduled for next February.

In the meantime, Medavoy seems bent on crusading against Botox -- a course of action that could wind up unjustifiably denying many the benefits of the treatment." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

Uh-huh... "Group cites evidence Atkins diet dangerous" - "WASHINGTON - A nutrition advocacy group said on Thursday the popular Atkins diet has caused heart disease and could have killed a teen-age dieter and urged the U.S. government to monitor the high-fat weight loss approach. The Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine stressed it could not prove the diet hurt or killed anyone, but one dieter said he was convinced the approach clogged his arteries and the parents of a teen-ager who died while on the diet also blame her meat-heavy regimen. The PCRM called on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to monitor diet approaches and check for evidence that the Atkins and other high-fat, high-protein diets may be harming people's health." (Reuters)

Conceivably the highest possible accolade for Atkins - PCRM are "ag'in' it."

"Recycling Programs Cost Central Florida Residents" - "ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. -- When Central Florida began recycling programs years ago, it sounded like a win-win situation. We were protecting the earth and saving money. But, instead, a Channel 9 investigation discovered recycling is like throwing money away. It's just about a daily ritual. You throw that plastic drink bottle in the recycle bin and you've done your civic duty of recycling. And after everything gets sorted out and shipped off, your city or county gets paid for each ton delivered. That adds up fast, right? "Our material coming into this plant has probably tripled," says Debbie Sponsler, Orange Co. Solid Waste. Last year, Orange County sold its recyclables for $56,000. The problem: it spent roughly $3 million to pick it all up." (wftv.com)

"Brazil's Environmentalists Crying Foul" - "BRASÍLIA — The environmental movement celebrated when Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was elected Brazil's president in October last year. More than a year later, though, that relationship is in danger of falling apart, with environmentalists talking of betrayal.

On virtually every major issue — from Amazon deforestation and genetically modified food to nuclear power and squatter invasions of national parks — Mr. da Silva has turned his back on them, environmentalists say, in many cases abandoning campaign pledges." (New York Times)

"Terrorists with Tofu breath" - "They are bomb-throwing Birkenstock brats. Wolves in hemp clothing. Enemies of scientific progress. Inveterate haters of humanity. They are environmental extremists and animal rights zealots. They are running loose. And they are endangering us all." (Michelle Malkin, Townhall.com)

"The much-maligned mosquito fighter" - "Under the Microscope: Asked to name a dangerous insecticide, most people would say DDT. It is equally likely that most people would be unaware that DDT has saved millions of lives because of its ability to kill the mosquito that transmits malaria." (Dr William Reville, The Irish Times) [Sadly, a subscription item]

"Sun avoidance will not reduce cancer" - "Avoiding the sun is not the best strategy for reducing overall rates of cancer, claims a senior doctor in a letter to this week's BMJ. Recommending moderate exposure to the sun would be more prudent. (BMJ-British Medical Journal)

"Antarctica's seasonal ozone hole disappears" - "GENEVA — The seasonal "ozone hole" over the South Pole has disappeared again after reaching record size earlier this year, U.N. officials said Thursday. The hole is a thinner-than-usual area in the protective layer of gas high up in the Earth's atmosphere. It has been forming in the extremely low temperatures that mark the end of Antarctic winter every year since the mid-1980s, largely due to chemical pollution. The hole forms in August or September as Antarctica's long, dark winter is ending. It normally fills in by December." (AP)

A slight improvement on 'normal' coverage of this non-issue, although it neglects to inform readers that the so-called 'hole' has been observed annually at least since a Dobson Spectrophotometer was first deployed at Halley Bay in 1955 and may well have occurred for millennia (just because no one was looking for or able to measure stratospheric ozone doesn't mean levels weren't fluctuating seasonally then as now).

"Tree root life controls CO2 absorption" - "A new study indicates that the potential for soils to soak up atmospheric carbon dioxide is strongly affected by how long roots live. Large differences in root replacement rates between forest types might alter current predictions of how carbon absorption by soil will act to ameliorate global warming from excess human-caused carbon dioxide. The study, by researchers at Argonne National Laboratory, Duke University, University of Illinois at Chicago, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, was funded by the Department of Energy." (DOE/Argonne National Laboratory)

"Leonardo DiCaprio stars in campaign to slow global warming" - "Leonardo DiCaprio is using his fame to call on elected officials to reduce American dependence on oil and slow down global warming. The 29-year-old actor and conservationist is appearing in a short film called "Global Warning" as part of an Internet campaign organized by Global Green USA, an affiliate of Green Cross International." (AP)

So, Leo, still driving your SUV or what?

"Ministry blasts business opposition to carbon tax" - "A top Environment Ministry official lashed out Thursday at opposition by the Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren) to a ministry plan to introduce an environmental tax in 2005. "If Keidanren officials say they cannot accept the proposed tax, what other steps would they come up with to achieve the goals set in the Kyoto Protocol?" Vice Environment Minister Shigeru Sumitani asked at a news conference." (The Japan Times)

"Textile Mill Weaves Blankets from Corn" - "NEW YORK - You can munch corn at a party or pop it in the cinema. Now you can use the plant, first cultivated in Mexico several thousand years ago, to keep warm on a frigid night. A textile mill aims to weave blankets with a fiber processed from the natural sugars found in ordinary field corn, and sell them to the "save the planet" crowd." (Reuters)

"[Germany] State tries to go ahead with genetically modified crops" - "The eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt is attempting to spur the federal government into allowing the use of genetically modified crops in Germany, while trying to get in on the ground floor should the controversial technology finally get the green light in this country." (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung)

"BRAZIL : Cow Clones 'a la Natural'" - "BRASILIA, Nov 20 Many people are disappointed when they meet Vitoria and Lenda, the first cows cloned in Latin America. ”They're just like any others,” tends to be the reaction when one first sees the two at the experimental farm of Sucupira, 30 km from Brasilia." (Tierramérica)

November 20, 2003

Today's chuckle: "Mandelson in 'ghost ships' row" - "Peter Mandelson was yesterday threatened with legal action by Friends of the Earth in the dispute over former US military "ghost ships" in his Hartlepool constituency. The environmental group demanded an apology over an allegation by the Downing Street adviser that it had made "false claims" to whip up what he described as an "irrational fear" over the presence of the vessels. Tony Juniper, director of FoE, wrote to Mr Mandelson demanding an apology after taking legal advice that suggested the former cabinet minister had attacked the organisation's integrity." (The Guardian)

Lester, again... "China's rising grain prices could signal global food crisis" - "US environmentalist Lester Brown warned Wednesday that sudden food price hikes in China could be the sign of a coming world food crisis brought on by global warming and increasingly scarce water supplies among major grain producers." (AFP)

"Sahel drought: new look at causes" - "Scientists are researching how climate triggered the drought in Africa's Sahel, site of one of the world's most devastating famines, which has caused widespread starvation." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"Volcanoes kick-start El Niño: Eruptions make natural climate swings twice as likely" - "El Niño - the recurrent climate swing that brings flood, fire and famine - can be triggered by volcanic eruptions, according to a new report. Climate and eruption records dating back to the seventeenth century suggest that a large eruption can double the likelihood of an El Niño event the following winter. The link has been proposed before, but never established conclusively. The current findings, based on more extensive climate records than were previously available, are more reliable." (NSU)

"The Butterfly Effect" - "Can butterfly 'farming' help save the world's vanishing rainforests? There's a hypothesis in chaos theory that tiny air currents rippling out from a single butterfly's wings can swell into a storm half a world away. If one wing beat could alter the atmosphere, what about clouds of the colourful insects? Wild theories aside, butterflies can change the climate by helping to save the world's remaining tropical forests. These vast tracts of trees are often called the 'lungs of the planet.' Their foliage draws in the carbon dioxide that causes global warming and converts it to oxygen." (Keane J. Shore, OneWorld.net)

Hmm... I still reckon lung function involves capturing O2 from the atmosphere and venting CO2 and H2O to atmosphere - something old growth forests do too. (Yes, I know new forests and regrowth capture greater quantities of CO2 than they liberate but that's another story.)

"Global Warming Gas Seen Increasing Dramatically" - "HOUSTON - Worldwide emissions of carbon dioxide, considered a culprit in global warming, are expected to increase by 3.5 billion tonnes, or 50 percent, annually by the year 2020, an executive for ExxonMobil Corp said on Wednesday. At the same time, global demand for energy will rise by 40 percent as the world population increases and economies grow, said Randy Broiles, global planning manager for Exxon's oil and gas production unit." (Reuters)

"How Hot Is It? Global warming creeps along" - "New View of Data Supports Human Link to Global Warming," the New York Times reported yesterday. Well, perhaps.

It is a scientifically established fact that, all other things being equal, extra carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will tend to trap heat from the sun and warm our planet. But the real question is how much the carbon dioxide that has been added to the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels will really warm the earth.

Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.) has called global warming a "hoax" perpetrated by extreme environmentalists. Of course, Inhofe is from a big oil-producing state and is derided by activists as a know-nothing yahoo, but perhaps he's on to something. Buried in the Times article was an acknowledgement that "the new research is showing that, at least so far, the influence of greenhouse gases appears to have been more modest than some climate experts once predicted." (Ronald Bailey, Reason)

"Climate change blamed for Scotland's warmest year" - "THIS year could turn out to be the warmest in Scotland since records began almost a century and a half ago, according to environmentalists. The campaigning organisation WWF Scotland made the claim after analysing temperature records from the Meteorological Office. According to its findings, three months of this year have so far been classed as exceptionally warm, or a full 2C higher than average, and six months have been warmer than the same months in 1997. That year holds the record for the warmest since 1861, according to the Met Office’s mainland temperature series of records. WWF Scotland claimed that climate change due to global warming was to blame." (The Scotsman)

"Same Old Story" - "The conventional wisdom has been that temperatures during the early years of the last millennium (~A.D. 800 to 1300) were relatively warmer -- in what was known as the Medieval Warm Period -- while temperatures decreased during the middle years of the millennium (~A.D. 1400 to 1850) -- during what was known as the Little Ice Age. During the 1900s, temperatures increased as a result of a number of factors, including the demise of the Little Ice Age. Both introductory scientific texts as well as extensive scientific literature confirm these facts." (David R. Legates, TCS)

"U.N.'s human-rights violations" - "The United Nations is supposed to be a watchdog of human rights, but it needs watching itself. It has been denying people, especially the poor, the right to feed themselves, buy from others and use their land as they wish. The inhabitants of less developed countries are literally dying as a consequence." (Henry I. Miller and Gregory Conko, The Washington Times)

Sigh... "Greenpeace exposes dumping of GE soy in Thailand" - "The environmental group Greenpeace today used inflatable boats off the port of Srichang Island, Thailand, to intercept a large bulk-carrier, the MV Poseidon, transporting genetically engineered (GE) soy from Argentina to Thailand. Activists painted a giant “X’ and the letters “GMOs’ on the hull of the ship, exposing that Thailand has become the dumping ground of GE soy from the United States and Argentina. Activists also put a cordon of flags declaring “Stop GMO Dumping’ in front of the ship to mark it as a quarantine zone." (Press Release)

"Brazil Farmers Declare Plans for Genetically Modified Soybeans" - "At least 50,400 soy producers in Brazil have registered to plant genetically modified soybeans in the 2003/04 crop year, the Agriculture Ministry said on Friday. The ministry said on Monday that only 11,900 producers had signed up to plant GM, well below its expectation of 50,000 to 100,000 growers. "In some locations, such as Chapada (in Rio Grande do Sul state) the intention to plant GM reached almost 98 percent of the growers," the Agriculture Ministry said in a statement on Friday. Brazil, the last agricultural exporter of its size to ban GM foods, recently legalized biotech soy planting and sales for the new crop, under the condition that producers register their intention to plant GM with the government by Dec. 9." (Truth About Trade & Technology)

"Globally, GM plantings are on the rise" - "The number of growers planting genetically modified (GM) crops and the amount of land dedicated to them continue to grow globally, according to Clive James, the chair of the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), and the author of the group's annual report on the global status of agricultural biotechnology." (Agriculture Online)

"Biotech critics gain a victory: Mendocino voters may decide on local ban of altered crops" - "Voters in Mendocino County will have a chance to be the first in the nation to ban the raising of genetically engineered crops. Mendocino elections officials said Tuesday that backers of a biotech crop ban have submitted enough valid signatures to earn a spot on the March ballot." (Sacramento Bee)

November 19, 2003

"Scientist on trial" - "LUBBOCK, TEXAS--Texas Tech University researcher Thomas Butler, an expert on the plague bacterium Yersinia pestis, is on trial here in federal court. He faces 69 criminal charges, including illegally importing bacteria samples into the United States, lying to the FBI about 30 vials of plague that went missing from his laboratory, and mishandling grant funds. If convicted on all counts, he could be fined $17 million and sentenced to up to 469 years in prison.

Allies in the scientific community say that Butler is the victim of prosecutorial overkill. But the government says Butler broke rules designed to protect the nation against bioterrorism. Observers say the outcome could have a significant impact on life science researchers working with potentially dangerous agents." (ScienceNOW)

Uh-huh... "Why mobile phones may hurt backs" - "People who chat on their mobile phone while walking could be hurting their back, according to a study." (BBC News Online)

"The Real Scandal" - "CASPIAN is outraged by a “secret” smart-shelf test “uncovered” by the Chicago Sun Times. The real scandal is the way the public is being misled about RFID." (Mark Roberti, RFID Journal)

"Greenpeace Under Attack by UN and U.S." - "WASHINGTON, D.C., Nov 18 -- One of the world's most prominent and effective non-governmental organizations, Greenpeace, is coming under attack at both the United Nations and by the U.S. Justice Department in Washington, D.C. The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) is moving to lift Greenpeace's "consultative status," which permits the environmental group to submit briefs to and address the UN agency--responsible for ensuring "safer ships" and "cleaner seas"--on the grounds that the group practices unsafe seamanship. The action comes as U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft is pressing a criminal case against Greenpeace for allegedly violating an obscure 1872 law against individuals who lured sailors to their establishments with offers of liquor or prostitutes, and encouraging local authorities to deny Greenpeace docking rights at its ports. Both actions come amid efforts by groups close to the Bush administration to more closely monitor progressive international NGOs, such as Greenpeace, that they accuse of pursuing a "globalist agenda" that threatens U.S. interests abroad." (OneWorld)

Conference: Instituto Bruno Leoni is pleased to invite you to the conference ‘From greenhouse effect to climate control - Scientific, economic, and political aspects of global warming’ Click here for programme (PDF)

"I Planned to Attend, But I Now Cannot..." - "Editor's note: This week the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington-based think tank where TCS host James K. Glassman is a fellow, is holding a symposium on climate change issues called "Return to Rio: Reexamining Climate Change Science, Economics and Policy."

AEI asked scientists and other interested parties from around the country to participate. In the interest of balance, AEI asked several proponents of the hypothesis of an anthropogenic greenhouse effect to participate but were turned down consistently. One of those who enthusiastically accepted, however, was Martin Hoffert, a professor of physics at New York University. Professor Hoffert originally agreed to participate, but then last week informed Sam Thernstrom and Ryan Stowers of the American Enterprise Institute, who were coordinating the conference, that he would be unable to attend. What follows below is their email exchange which we believe you will find of interest." (Tech Central Station)

"Global warming debate heats up Capitol Hill" - "A global-warming brouhaha has critics of a landmark climate report saying the 20th century was not as hot as it was cracked up to be. Climate scientists, who have long been raising red flags on the impact modern man is having on Earth's climate, are calling the critics half-baked. The debate — the subject of a briefing Tuesday on Capitol Hill — highlights the opposing arguments in the global-warming controversy." (USA TODAY)

"Global warming speaker under fire" - "MUNCIE - Virginia climatologist Patrick Michaels is such a controversial speaker on climate change that even a news release announcing an upcoming speech by him can start a dispute.

Ball State University recently issued a press release referring to Michaels as "one of the nation's leading researchers on global warming." He will lecture on "Global Warming: The End of the Story," at 7 p.m. Thursday in Cooper Science Complex room 188.

"Pat Michaels is not one of the nation's leading researchers on climate change," asserts Peter Gleick, a conservation analyst and president of the Oakland-based Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment and Security. "On the contrary, he is one of a very small minority of nay-sayers who continue to dispute the facts and science about climate change in the face of compelling, overwhelming, and growing evidence.

"I consider that Michaels is to the science of climate change like the Flat Earth Society is to the science of planetary shape." (The Star Press)

"Keidanren comes out against carbon tax" - "The Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren) urged the Environment Ministry on Tuesday to think twice about introducing a carbon tax. Environment Minister Yuriko Koike addresses Nippon Keidanren executives. Levying the new tax would hollow out industry and put a damper on the economy, which is showing signs of recovery, Hiroshi Okuda, chairman of the nation's most powerful business lobby, and other senior Keidanren officials told Environment Minister Yuriko Koike during their meeting at a Tokyo hotel." (The Japan Times)

From CO2 Science Magazine this week:

"A 2000-Year Temperature Record of a Big Chunk of China" - "Does it represent the "beginning of the end" for the Mann et al. version of earth's climatic history?" (co2science.org)

Subject Index Summaries:
"Greenland (Temperature History)" - "Polar regions are typically predicted to warm much more than other parts of the planet, according to climate models of CO2-induced global warming.  So what's been happening, climate-wise, in and around Greenland over the past 100, 1000 and 10,000 years?" (co2science.org)

"Deserts (Higher Plants - Basic Responses to CO2)" - "It is impossible to accurately predict the biological impacts of global warming on earth's desert plants on the basis of projected changes in climate alone.  One must also consider the concurrent direct effects of atmospheric CO2 enrichment on photosynthesis and stomatal conductance, together with their many subsequent effects on plant growth and development." (co2science.org)

Plant Growth Data:
"This week we add new results (blue background) of plant growth responses to atmospheric CO2 enrichment obtained from experiments described in the peer-reviewed scientific literature for: Canada Cockleburr, Lambsquarters, Myrtle Oak, Salt Marsh Sedge and White Campion." (co2science.org)

Journal Reviews:
"Long-Term Discharge Rates of Major European Rivers" - "What do they tell us about the impact of global warming on the planet's hydrologic cycle?" (co2science.org)

"In Search of Climate Stability" - "Are we headed in the right direction?" (co2science.org)

"The Reservoir of Nitrogen Hidden Beneath Earth's Deserts" - "Will it someday help them blossom as the rose?" (co2science.org)

"Effects of Climate Change and Atmospheric CO2 Enrichment on the Growth of Aleppo Pines in Southeast France" - "The effects are huge.  But don't wait up to hear about them on the evening news or late-night talk shows.  Reassuring biological discoveries just can't compete with scary claims of climatic catastrophe." (co2science.org)

"Growth Response of a Regenerating Scrub-Oak Ecosystem to Atmospheric CO2 Enrichment" - "This superlative long-term study of woody-plant biomass production demonstrates the great potential for the rising CO2 content of earth's atmosphere to vastly increase the growth of the planet's trees, even during years of severe drought." (co2science.org)

"Scientists debate about genetically altered food" - "Science, international policy and law bumped heads Tuesday night at the UCLA School of Law as a group of panelists debated issues related to genetically modified foods. A panel of genetic, environmental and international law experts visited UCLA as guests of the Evan Frankel Environmental Law and Policy Program and the UCLA Institute of the Environment. The aim of the panel was to discuss issues related to GM foods, such as food safety and the role of international organizations in regulating GM foods." (Daily Bruin)

November 18, 2003

"Ticking Firebombs" - "Having swathed ourselves in moral guilt for the impact human activity is having on the environment, we seem to be overlooking the fact that our efforts to fix problems can be misplaced. The psychology of this is interesting. It may well be dictated by desire about where to apportion blame. The phenomenon of the rise of the devastating wildfires, most vividly those in Southern California, but also in the rest of the world, illustrates this neatly." (Alan Oxley, TCS)

"Strawberry fields hold key to pesticide politics" - "Transatlantic differences over environmental policy shifted to new and unusual battlegrounds last week. From California strawberry fields to the tomato farms of Florida, the resistance of US farmers to a ban on methyl bromide, a potent pesticide, threatened one of the world's most successful environmental treaties, the Montreal Protocol.

For the farmers, who are backed by the US government, methyl bromide is an effective and - they say - irreplaceable bug killer. For environmentalists concerned about the earth's ozone layer, it is the most potent ozone-destroying compound in widespread use." (Financial Times)

"Greenhouse gas levels off : Amount of methane in atmosphere plateaus" - "The amount of methane in the atmosphere has been slowly increasing every year since the Industrial Revolution began. But in 1999, that trend may have stopped, researchers at the Boulder branch of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced in a paper being published today. Ed Dlugokencky, one of the scientists who wrote the report, said methane levels stopped increasing four years ago — and then stayed put. The new level has been consistent enough and has lasted long enough that researchers don't think it's merely a statistical glitch, he said. "The growth rate does fluctuate from year to year," he said. "But we haven't seen such a persistent period of non-growth before." (The Daily Camera)

Data doesn't suit your hypothesis? No problem, just alter the data: "New View of Data Supports Human Link to Global Warming" - "One of the last gaps in the evidence pointing to a human cause for global warming appears to be closing. A re-examination of 24 years of data from weather satellites has found that temperatures are rising in the lower layer of the atmosphere, called the troposphere, at a rate that is consistent with what has been measured at the earth's surface." (New York Times)

"Climate change: The human connection" - "This is the first in a series of weekly UPI articles examining the arguments and controversies surrounding the issue of global climate change." (United Press International)

"Bush Administration plan to reduce global warming could devastate sea life" - "A Bush Administration proposal to mitigate the effects of global warming by capturing carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and injecting it into the deep sea could have disastrous effects on sea life." (University of Rhode Island)

"Kyoto Protocol is dead" - "The Kyoto Protocol's short and unhappy life has come to an end, though some of its die-hard supporters refuse to admit it. From the outset, it was flawed in principle. It has proven unworkable in practice. No one should mourn its passing." (H. Sterling Burnett, Montreal Gazette)

"Germany's Retreat from Nuclear Energy Begins" - "STADE, Germany - Germany switched off the first of its 19 nuclear power stations on Friday, launching what it calls the world's fastest withdrawal from atomic energy but a policy that may still be reversed if the opposition takes power." (Reuters)

"Farmers want assurance modified wheat will have market" - "Sunburst farmer Herb Karst was confident he'd sell the herbicide-resistant canola crop he harvested this year. Planted with Roundup-Ready canola seed from the Monsanto Co., Karst's crop was sold to a Canadian buyer. He's not so sure that Roundup-Ready wheat will enjoy the same fate. Some of the biggest customers of Montana's wheat crop say they don't want a genetically modified product. That's why Karst, along with a delegation from the Montana Grain Growers Association, went to the Monsanto office in St. Louis last week. "Our concerns are on wheat-importing countries, will they accept it?" said Karst, who serves as president of Montana Grain Growers Association." (Great Falls Tribune)

"GM food safety: will EU consumers buy it?" - "The EU has authorized the sale of a new genetically modified food product.

November 17, 2003 6:55 PM GMT - Syngenta's GM maize will soon be available in the EU, following the end of a five-year moratorium on GM products in the region. Biotechnology companies will be pleased, but they still face a significant battle in trying to convince consumers to buy foods with GM ingredients." (Datamonitor)

"Saurashtra farmers rejoice with bootleg Bt crop" - "Rajkot, November 17: FOR farmers of Bt cotton, it’s time to rejoice. Saurashtra region has been blessed with a bumper yield of Bt cotton this time. However, Mahyco Monsanto, the only certified brand authorised to sell three varieties of Bt cotton, has little reason to cheer. Markets in Saurashtra has been flooded with genetically modified Bt cotton, but 95 per cent of it is believed to be produced by using uncertified cotton seeds.

Bt Cotton had only 30 per cent share of the market last year, which has now increased to 90 per cent. ‘‘According to our estimate, 90 per cent of the total 15 lakh tons of cotton yield in Saurashtra this season is of Bt cotton,’’ says an official in the agriculture department.

No wonder, then, that this figure is not encouraging for Mahyco Monsanto officials. ‘‘According to our survey, our share is only 5 per cent of the total production of Bt cotton in Saurastra,’’ says Jayantilal Satashia, territory manager (Mahyco Monsanto).

Though Mahyco Monsanto received official permission to sell certified seeds in 2002, farmers have been using uncertified seeds since 1998. Between 1998-2002, Saurashtra region produced around 2-3 quintal cotton per acre. But, the figure has risen to 10 quintal per acre this year.

‘‘Bt cotton seeds were officially introduced in 2002 and farmers were a bit hesitant to use it. But its wide acceptance shows that farmers want Bt cotton. Compared to last year, our sales figures have increased, but it’s nothing compared to the sale of uncertified varieties.’’ (Indian Express)

November 17, 2003

"Beauty before bluster..." - "If I were asked what is the single most crass policy of the present government, it would have to be the promotion of wind farms. These make no sense environmentally, economically, or in terms of energy production, as many despairing experts point out daily. It is thus wonderfully encouraging to read about increasing local opposition to the desecration of our last remaining wilderness by these ephemera of modern sensibilities." (Philip Stott, EnviroSpin Watch)

"Enabling, and Disabling, Ecoterrorists" - "OAKLAND Calif. — It has been a busy year for what you might call lifestyle terrorism. S.U.V.'s were blown up, set ablaze and otherwise vandalized in Pennsylvania, New Mexico and Texas. A homemade incendiary device was found at a spring-water pumping station in western Michigan — a comment, the group claiming responsibility said, on the commodification of water.

More recently, activists with statements to make on topics from urban sprawl and animal rights to gas-guzzling recreational vehicles set fire to a condominium complex under construction in San Diego, fire-bombed a Hummer dealership east of Los Angeles, exploded homemade bombs at biotech and cosmetics companies, and vandalized the home of a famous chef known for his foie gras, to protest the force-feeding of ducks.

Things have gone way beyond trees." (New York Times)

The Indy reported this? Gracious! "Ghost ships: the scare that never was" - "The Government yesterday hit back at environmental pressure groups for grossly exaggerating the dangers from old US navy vessels, as it changed its policy to allow two more of the "ghost ships", at present still at sea, to overwinter in Hartlepool.

Peter Mandelson, the local MP, accused the groups of "colossal misinformation" after personally inspecting the two ships that docked in the north-eastern port last week. And senior government sources pointed out that the ships - continually described as "toxic timebombs" by environmentalists - are in fact "no more toxic than the average car ferry." (Independent on Sunday)

"Food cop to diner: 'OK, Fatso, step away from those fries'" - "It'll come out now, just like it did with cigarettes.

Tobacco companies hid addictive nicotine in cigarettes. Now it turns out, the fast food industry has been doing exactly the same thing.

They've been hiding calories in food.

Lawsuits already have been filed against fast-food chains, alleging, I guess, a wide-ranging restaurant conspiracy to sell food that tastes good. To say nothing of the cover-up of countless deaths caused by second-hand fat - the weight you gain just walking into a place where people eat too much." (Betty Cuniberti, St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

"Food Phobic Nation" - "Good nutrition is getting a bad name -- one that smacks of rigidity, guilt-making and extremism… Worse still, some eight out of ten (Americans) think foods are inherently good or bad... every single bite they take represents an all-or-nothing choice either for or against good health."

This statement from the Tufts University Diet and Nutrition Letter over a decade ago accurately sums up the current nutrition atmosphere in the United States. Americans live in a constant state of anxiety and confusion when it comes to food." (Jon Robison, TCS)

"Salt sellers on the rack" - "Much as we might dislike them we have to be impressed at the resolution with which the establishment media swing behind a political correctness campaign. The Junk Food operation is summed up nicely by the Social Issues Research Centre in a review of the orchestrated coverage this month." (NumberWatch)

"Talks Fail to Agree on Ozone Damaging Fumigant" - "NAIROBI - Environmental negotiations seen by U.S. fruit growers as critical to future profitability failed to break a deadlock Friday on a U.S. request to increase use of a fumigant known to destroy the ozone layer, delegates said. Use of controversial fumigant methyl bromide will instead be tackled at an extraordinary meeting next year, a U.N.-sponsored negotiating conference in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, decided. The United States, the European Union and Japan have cut the use of methyl bromide to 30 percent of previous levels, but now the United States wants to be allowed to increase its use to 38.2 percent in 2005." (Reuters)

New items posted Still Waiting For Greenhouse

"Global warming 'detected' in the US" - "Climate change caused by human activity has been detected on a local level, an international group of scientists says. The researchers compared temperatures in North America between 1900 and 1999 with what one might expect if man had - and had not - had an influence. And in the last 50 years, the rise in temperature is just what one would predict if man-made greenhouse gases were having an impact, they claim." (BBC News Online)

"US negotiator says America wary of Kyoto Protocol follow-up" - "PARIS - The top US negotiator at world climate change talks ruled out any chance of Washington backing the next agreement on cutting carbon pollution if the deal resembled the Kyoto Protocol already rejected by President George W. Bush.

"It's going to be very difficult for the United States to get back to a Kyoto-type (agreement) because it has a rigid target and timetable agreement" for emissions cuts, Harlan Watson, senior climate negotiator at the State Department, told journalists here Friday.

"(...) For the foreseeable future, anyway, the United States would not be particularly pleased with the Kyoto framework. We think that there are basic difficulties, there are also some operational difficulties." (AFP)

"Climate change will allow Scotland to develop wines" - "WINE lovers will be able to buy their first vintage of Scottish wine within the next 50 years, say scientists. Using computer models, the scientists at the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research, in Bracknell, say Britain will enjoy rising temperatures within the next five decades, possibly up by 2C, making it possible for viticulturists to develop vineyards north of the Border. It’s a view backed by the climatologist Gregory Jones, who, speaking at a United States Geological Society conference in Seattle, argued that after a study of the world’s wine growing regions, he believes the time will soon be ripe for Scotland to harvest its own grapes." (The Scotsman)

"Shrinking ice in Antarctic sea 'exposes global warming'" - "Frozen oceans that affect currents such as the Gulf Stream have decreased dramatically, say scientists." (The Guardian)

"GERMANY: European car makers unlikely to hit CO2 reduction targets - paper" - "European car makers are unlikely to meet their voluntary target to cut CO2 emissions significantly over the next decade, Automotive News Europe reported.

Back in 1998, the European carmakers association, ACEA, pledged to reduce the new car fleet average C02 emissions to 140 grams per kilometre in 2008, a 25% reduction from 1995. It also said it would cut emissions to 120g/km by 2012.

ACEA monitoring figures to be released next month will show that emissions for 2002 were 165g/km - a rise from the 2001 figure of 164g/km.

Carmakers say the growing appetite of consumers for fuel-guzzlers such as sport-utility vehicles is blocking progress.

Cars have also become heavier and less fuel-efficient as more equipment is added to meet safety regulations.

ACEA Chairman Louis Schweitzer, Renault's CEO, said the 140g/km commitment would be tough to meet and the target for 2012 was not practical." (just-auto.com)

"Australia named best nuclear waste site" - "AUSTRALIA is the best place in the world to build an international underground dump for high-level nuclear waste, a Swiss-based nuclear lobby group claims. Despite previous attempts to gain the Australian Government's support for the idea, the Association for Regional and International Underground Storage continues to argue Australia will one day need such a site and would get billions of investment dollars by taking some of the world's high-level nuclear waste." (Herald Sun)

"USDA Studies Econ, Trade Impacts Of Biotech Wheat-Sources" - "Washington, Nov. 14 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture is studying possible impacts that genetically modified wheat may have on foreign trade and the domestic U.S. market in the event it is approved for commercialization, according to government, industry and academic sources.

USDA maintains it bases its approval process for biotech products purely on science. However, these studies mark a significant effort by the department to examine the potential global impact a new product could have on markets and trade.

"We don't regulate the market," a USDA official said. "We regulate for health and safety reasons." (OsterDowJones)

"EU to end five-year ban on new GM products" - "The EU will allow a genetically modified food product to go on sale next month. The move will end a five-year European moratorium on new GM foods. Key EU officials have indicated that the moratorium on GM food will end within weeks. A committee meeting next month is ready to approve a corn product developed by Anglo-Swiss firm Syngenta. Its introduction will provide a massive shot in the arm to the downtrodden biotech sector, which has haemorrhaged investor support of late. It will also appease the US government, which has lodged a formal complaint with the World Trade Organisation over Europe's refusal to permit new GM products. But, significantly, the first product to get EU approval in five years is not from a US firm but European. 'There is significant anti-American feeling in Europe,' said an EU insider. However, the ruling is expected to herald a wave of other product approvals." (The Observer)

"Growers: tears in GM onions" - "New Zealand should be looking at other ways to control weeds rather than by producing herbicide tolerant onions, growers say.

Hawkes Bay onion growers say New Zealand is endangering its international clean, green reputation by even considering planting the onions modified to make them tolerant to the active ingredient in the weedkiller Roundup.

The Environmental Risk Management Authority last week began considering an application to grow the genetically engineered onions in a controlled field trial.

The application is supported by Federated Farmers, whose spokesman, Hugh Ritchie, said the application would build on research already under way with the potential to benefit producers, consumers and the environment." (New Zealand Herald)

"GM food-labelling plans may hurt South Africa" - "Europe's plans to introduce strict new rules on the labelling of genetically modified food may pose a threat to South African food exporters, according to the US state department's special negotiator for agricultural biotechnology, Peter Chase. Chase was in SA last week in the course of an African visit that is taking him to Nigeria and Ghana. He is meeting government officials, scientists and watchdog groups. From April, European food and animal feed containing more than 0,9% modification ingredients will have to be labelled." (Business Day)

November 14, 2003

"Did Sept. 11 Cause Heart Attacks?" - "A new “study” claims a rise in heart attacks treated at a Brooklyn hospital can be traced to the Sep. 11 attacks.

But it’s hard to decide which had less thought go into it --this inadequate research or the American Heart Association’s decision to promote it." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"Study Links Pesticides with Parkinson's Disease" - "NEW YORK - The pesticide rotenone has been shown to cause cell damage that is linked to Parkinson's disease (PD). Now, new lab research indicates that other pesticides can also cause this damage and some are even more toxic than rotenone.

However, there is no cause for general concern, since the way the pesticides were tested doesn't really reflect the way they're found in the environment." (Reuters)

Still trying to 'protect' us from every useful compound: "US, Ozone Experts Argue Over Methyl Bromide Ban" - "NAIROBI - American farmers were at odds with environmental experts and European governments yesterday on the eve of a vote that could decide whether U.S. growers can increase the use a fumigant known to destroy the ozone layer." (Reuters)

"Nyet to Kyoto" - "The Kyoto Protocol will likely soon die on the steps of the Kremlin, as Russia legislators are no longer fooled by its 'illusionary' benefits and the unrealistic emission levels it sets out for the country." (Paul Webster, Financial Post)

"Forest carbon projects under scrutiny" - "The rule permitting companies to offset greenhouse gas emissions by investing in forestry projects in developing countries was part of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. Opponents argue that the ability of forest "sinks" to store carbon is difficult to measure, could be jeopardised by forest fires and a warmer climate, and distracts attention from attempts to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. The European Union, concerned about the risk that carbon in forest "sinks" could be released back into the atmosphere, is arguing that companies should only be given temporary credits - renewable every five years - for carbon stored in trees." (Financial Times)

"Climate models predict wetter winters, warmer summers in the West" - "Scientists have now developed computer models that are producing the first simulations of how ecosystems and fire regimes could change in the 21st century. Some of these simulations are showing that the Western United States may get wetter during the winter and experience warmer summers throughout the 21st century. These results have been used in national and global assessments of global climate change." (USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station)

Good grief! "Effects of global warming worrying sportsmen, UN-backed report says" - "13 November – Smog, more intense sunlight and declining ski conditions are among growing environmental changes caused by global warming and pollution that are worrying sportsmen and sportswomen around the world, according to a United Nations-supported international survey released today.

“If global warming turns the mountains to summer, where am I supposed to snowboard?” Shaun White, the world’s No. 1-ranked snowboarder, says in a book accompanying the findings, which will be discussed at the Global Forum for Sport and the Environment 2003 (G-ForSE) opening in Tokyo, Japan, tomorrow.

“Global warming is changing the face of the sea. I just want to ride a natural wave,” adds Ryu Nakamura, a leading Japanese surfer, referring to the way climate change is making weather conditions more extreme and violent." (UN News)

"Antarctic sea ice declines 20pc" - "ANTARCTIC sea ice has decreased by about 20 per cent since the 1950s, groundbreaking Australian research has found. A team led by Australian Antarctic Division senior ice core chemist Mark Curran has harnessed new technology to piece together changes to sea ice dating back to 1840. Hailed as the first long-term evidence of sustained decline, the study results will be published today in the latest edition of Science." (AAP)

"Advance in developing biological strategies to produce hydrogen and sequester carbon dioxide" - "Department of Energy-funded researchers have achieved a significant scientific advance in their efforts to piece together DNA strands, thereby helping develop new, biological methods to capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, produce hydrogen and clean the environment. Joined by J. Craig Venter, president of the Institute for Biological Energy Alternatives, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham announced that the IBEA has succeeded in assembling a genome of a phage, or a virus of bacteria." (DOE/U.S. Department of Energy)

"By the year 2050, human population could add 2.6 billion people, reports Rockefeller scientist" - "It took from the beginning of time until 1950 to put the first 2.5 billion people on the planet. Yet in the next half-century, an increase that exceeds the total population of the world in 1950 will occur. So writes Joel E. Cohen, Ph.D., Dr.P.H., professor and head of the Laboratory of Populations at The Rockefeller University and Columbia University, in a Viewpoint article in the November 14 issue of the journal Science." (Rockefeller University)

"Ancient farmers practiced genetic manipulation in creating modern corn plant, study suggests" - "Ancient Americans were changing corn genes through selective breeding more than 4,000 years ago, according to researchers who say the modifications produced the large cobs and fat kernels that make corn one of humanity's most important foods. In a study that compared the genes of corn cobs recovered in Mexico and the southwestern United States, researchers found that three key genetic variants were systematically enhanced, probably through selective cultivation, over thousands of years. The technique was not as sophisticated as the methods used for modern genetically modified crops, but experts said in a study released Thursday that the general effect was the same: genetic traits were amplified or introduced to create plants with improved traits and greater yield. "Civilization has been built on genetically modified plants," said Nina V. Fedoroff of Pennsylvania State University." (The Associated Press)

"Nature's Affirmative Action" - "Biodiversity, represented by the 10 million or so animals, plants and microbes living on this planet, is threatened by many human activities. Amongst the numerous quasi-natural environments, the widest diversity is in the tropical humid forests, of which about half has been cut down during the past 100 years. The remaining area will vanish in the next 50 years, if no substantial countermeasures are undertaken. No single action on its own will be a remedy, but a central issue is to prevent subsistence farmers, who want to produce food for themselves and their families, from encroaching on untouched land such as tropical jungles.

The most important way to achieve this goal is to increase productivity on the land already being used, which means increasing yields. Here the "Second Green Revolution" will have an important role to play. The original "Green Revolution" increased grain yields substantially in Asia and thereby reduced famine in the region. Hopefully the second one will improve farm output in Africa." (Richard Braun, TCS)

"India 'to approve GM potato'" - "The commercial growing of a genetically modified potato which contains nutrients lacking in the diets of many of the poorest is expected to be approved in India within six months. The influential head of the Indian Government's Department of Biotechnology, Dr Manju Sharma, said the potato would be given free to millions of poor children at government schools to try to reduce the problem of malnutrition in the country. The potato contains a third more protein than normal, including essential high-quality nutrients, and has been created by adding a gene from the protein-rich amaranth plant. But critics describe the plan as risky, naive and a propaganda tool to promote the merits of GM food in India." (BBC News Online)

November 13, 2003

"Environmentalists fear military exemptions just the beginning" - "A defense bill that would let the U.S. military bypass key environmental laws to conduct training is a dangerous assault on endangered species and mammals, environmentalists said Wednesday. The Senate approved the measure Wednesday, and it now goes to President Bush for his signature. "Essentially, what this law will do is put the military above the laws -- two of the most important laws to protect our wildlife," said Susan Holmes, senior legislative representative for the environmental group Earthjustice." (Associated Press)

"Ghost ships don't scare me; but the alarmism does" - "Protest groups are shouting: “Go home!” at an American visitor they accuse of endangering lives and threatening the environment. No, not President Bush — that’s next week. This week’s target is the allegedly toxic fleet of US naval ships arriving in Britain.

The “ghost ships” were sent here to be broken up, but the High Court vetoed that after Friends of the Earth branded them “toxic time bombs”. The Government, having first said that all was ship-shape with the recycling deal, now says that the ships can dock in Hartlepool only for the winter, and must then be sent back whence they came.

But the scaremongers’ arguments do not float my boat. This 60-year-old ghost fleet is no more toxic than any other old ships, factories, oil rigs or lorries, which are safely disposed of all the time. The American ships have no cargoes, chemical or otherwise, and hardly any oil. Their structures contain some asbestos, a standard component when they were built. The other hazardous chemicals — PCBs — that protesters point to are just part of the old electrical wiring or the flaking paint." (Mick Hume, The Times) [subscription required outside UK]

"Author fights the good food fight" - "We're a nation becoming increasingly spooked about food - and why wouldn't we be? Mad cow, genetically altered Frankenfoods, food-borne illnesses and irradiation have created a new category of anxiety: food fright. It's out there, and it's no longer just a tree-hugger concern. It's a mainstream reality and, thanks in part to Marion Nestle, it has penetrated the world of posh food. Last year, Nestle's book, the highly acclaimed and controversial Food Politics, took aim at the food industry and the U.S. government for promoting massive overeating of the wrong foods and for an epidemic of obesity. The book is now in its seventh printing; it won the Association of American Publishers Award for the best book in public health and the Harry Chapin Media Award for best 2002 book." (CanWest News Service)

"Will global warming trigger a new ice age?" - "If climate change disrupts ocean currents, things could get very chilly round here, reports Bill McGuire" (The Guardian)

"IPCC's `Dangerous Incompetence'" - "The staid British weekly, The Economist, which has some justifiable claim to know something about economics, has just released a scathing attack on the statistical methods of the IPCC.  In an article titled "Hot Potato Revisited: A Lack-of-Progress Report on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change" (Economist, Nov. 6th 03), the magazine reported that the IPCC economic forecasting for various countries and regions of the world was hopelessly out of whack with reality.  These forecasts underpinned the IPCC's predictions about CO2 emissions growth since they involved changes in economic activity, population change, and economic growth.  The forecasts were then used to determine what they viewed would be the likely climatic changes resulting from that activity." (Still Waiting For Greenhouse)

"Media Coverage of Ag Biotechology Focuses on Risks Rather Than Benefits" - "Genetically modified foods (GMFs) and agricultural biotechnology have generated considerable attention, as well as controversy, since their introduction in the mid-1990s with the media playing a key role in fueling the public debate. A study from the University of Missouri-Columbia shows that media in the United States and the United Kingdom have focused more on the environmental risks, rather than the benefits, of GMFs and agricultural biotechnology." (University of Missouri-Columbia)

"Green Groups Sue USDA to Stop Bio-Pharm Planting" - "WASHINGTON - A coalition of environmental groups and consumer advocates sued the U.S. Agriculture Department in federal court yesterday to try and halt the experimental planting of biotech crops engineered to make medicine. Environmentalists, consumer advocates and food industry groups have urged the USDA to impose stricter regulations on pharmaceutical crops, fearing the unapproved plants could accidentally slip into the food supply." (Reuters)

"Cabinet papers warn Canada off GM crops: Farmers fear long-term threat to food exports" - "A secret briefing to the Canadian government has warned that the country's massive food exports are at risk from its continued use of GM crops. The paper, which has been obtained under the Access of Information Act, warns the cabinet of the "pressing need to immediately address these concerns". Such fears contrast with the government's repeated endorsement of GM crops and technology as a great opportunity for Canada." (The Guardian)

"UK government will use 'sound science' to reach a decision on GMOs, says Blair" - "UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has responded to a letter sent to him on behalf of 114 scientists, criticising his handling of the debate over genetically modified organisms (GMOs), saying that the government would make its decision on the basis of 'sound science'.

Mr Blair said that he read the letter with interest, and added that: 'The reason why we have not yet made a formal response to the results of the farm scale evaluations is that we are waiting to hear the assessment of the advisory committee on releases to the environment.'

Mr Blair made it clear, however, that consumer concerns are not the only arguments that will influence the government's decision. 'I strongly believe that science and technology are vital to our country's future prosperity. As a government, we need to ensure that the UK continues to be one of the top countries in the world for scientific research,' he said." (Cordis News) [Complete]

"Vatican accused of skewing conference on food production" - "November 13: The Vatican looks set to lend its vast moral authority to the cause of genetically modified crops, despite a row over the alleged "packing" with pro-GM delegates of a conference convened to help the Pope's officials make up their minds." (The Guardian)

"Prudence Urged for Genetically Modified Organisms" - "VATICAN CITY, NOV. 12, 2003 - The field of genetically modified organisms "must not be abandoned, although it needs much care," said a Vatican official at the conclusion of an international symposium. Cardinal Renato Martino, the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, concluded the two-day symposium by saying that the Holy See will give its ethical judgment on the matter of GMOs. He said the pontifical council "will not fail to offer its contribution to enlighten consciences so that plant biotechnologies are an opportunity for all, not a threat." The symposium, held Monday and Tuesday, attracted 60 representatives of the world of science, politics, industry and trade, international bodies, and consumer associations. The pontifical council will keep, among other things, three elements in mind, Cardinal Martino said: "Solidarity in trade relations among nations; … environmental safety and the health of all; … [and] understanding between the scientific world, civil society, and political authorities at the national and international level." He said that "the symposium has been a first instance of study on a path which the Holy See hopes to travel with prudence, serenity and in truth, to respond to the widespread expectations present in the Church, the scientific world and in our society in general." (Zenit.org) [Complete]

"[Australia] Stricter controls on GM trials" - "TIGHTER controls are being introduced on trials of genetically modified (GM) crops in Australia after problems with a batch of experimental canola in New South Wales.

State Agriculture Minister Ian Macdonald said although conditions on the GM canola crop were breached, he would allow the trial to continue under stricter controls and increased monitoring.

Tighter restrictions were recommended by the State's Advisory Council on Gene Technology after it reviewed the trial near the inland city of Wagga Wagga last week." (NEWS.com.au)

November 12, 2003

Politically incorrect research of the day: "An apple a day keeps the doctor away . . . but so may a cigarette" - "Cigarettes might just hold the key to treating some serious neurological problems. Scientists at the University of Houston have unlocked one of the first doors, discovering that nicotine repairs damaged brain function. Karim Alkadhi, associate professor of pharmacology, and his team of researchers at the UH College of Pharmacy recently have established that nicotine has a beneficial effect and, in many cases, even repairs memory impairment caused by stress on the brain." (University of Houston) | Nicotine metabolite may improve memory, protect against disease (Society for Neuroscience)

"Arctic and Antarctic sea ice marching to different drivers" - "A 30-year satellite record of sea ice in the two polar regions reveals that while the Northern Hemisphere Arctic ice has melted, Southern Hemisphere Antarctic ice has actually increased in more recent years. However, due to dramatic losses of Antarctic sea ice between 1973 and 1977, sea ice in both hemispheres has shrunk on average when examined over the 30-year time frame." (NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center--EOS Project Science Office)

"Experts say California wildfires could worsen with global warming" - "LAKE ARROWHEAD, Calif. - Drought- and beetle-ravaged trees in this mountain community stick up like matchsticks in the San Bernardino National Forest, bypassed by the fires still smoldering, but left like kindling for the next big blaze.

Welcome to the future.

Fires that charred nearly three-quarters of a million acres could presage increasingly severe fire danger as global warming weakens more forests through disease and drought, experts warn.

"You're really going to increase the chances of and prevalence of fire," said Susan Ustin, a professor of environmental and resource science at the University of California, Davis.

Warmer, windier weather and longer, drier summers would mean higher firefighting costs and greater loss of lives and property, according to researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the U.S. Forest Service." (Associated Press)

From CO2 Science Magazine this week:

"Potential Effects of Global Environmental Change on Wheat Production in Western Australia" - "A number of factors combine to determine the net effect of potential changes in precipitation, temperature and the air's CO2 content on the financial return of wheat farming in Western Australia.  A crop production model draws them all together in this analysis." (co2science.org)

Subject Index Summaries:
"Sea Level (Southern Hemisphere Measurements)" - "Are the islands of the sea and coastal lowlands about to be inundated by a CO2-induced global-warming-induced increase in sea level?  Data from the Southern Hemisphere provide a fresh perspective on the question." (co2science.org)

"Deserts (Expanding or Shrinking?)" - "For literally decades, climate-alarmists associated with the United Nations have engaged in a massive media campaign to convince the people of the world that the planet's deserts are growing ever larger.  For literally decades, they have promulgated a massive untruth." (co2science.org)

Plant Growth Data:
"This week we add new results (blue background) of plant growth responses to atmospheric CO2 enrichment obtained from experiments described in the peer-reviewed scientific literature for: Douglas Fir, Rice, Sundial Lupine, Tropical Fern and Yarrow." (co2science.org)

Journal Reviews:
"The Ice Phenology of Lake Simcoe, Southern Ontario, Canada" - "What can it tell us about the demise of the Little Ice Age and the birth of the Modern Warm Period?" (co2science.org)

"What Controls the Global Thermohaline Circulation?" - "Some models suggest it is the northward transport of atmospheric moisture in the Northern Hemisphere, while others suggest it is the southward transport of atmospheric moisture in the Southern Hemisphere, making the issue far from settled." (co2science.org)

"A Continuous 200-year Instrumental Temperature Record from Northern Sweden" - "Stretching from the midst of the Little Ice Age to the midst of the Modern Warm Period, the record has much to tell us about the nature and magnitude of both natural and anthropogenic-induced warming." (co2science.org)

"Will Insufficient Soil Nitrogen Limit Duke Forest's Ability to Continue to Positively Respond to Elevated Atmospheric CO2?" - "Five years of meticulous measurements have yet to reveal the final answer to this question; but they have sure raised havoc with one of the research team's original hypotheses about it." (co2science.org)

"Duke Forest Trees Exposed to Elevated Atmospheric CO2 Continue to Sop Up Carbon at Greatly Enhanced Rates" - "In spite of reservations they have about the ability of this ecosystem to maintain a high level of CO2-enhanced carbon sequestration, the scientists that study the phenomenon continue to report sustained positive results." (co2science.org)

"Will Hydrogen Clear the Air? Maybe Not, Say Some" - "WASHINGTON, Nov. 11 - Widespread hydrogen use has been enthusiastically embraced by major corporations and environmentalists alike as a panacea for global warming and the depletion of fossil fuels, and is a particular favorite of the Bush administration. But skeptics, and even some hydrogen advocates, say that use of hydrogen could instead make the air dirtier and the globe warmer." (New York Times)

"MSU research fights hunger: International HarvestPlus team to develop super crops" - "EAST LANSING -- Michigan State University has become a major player in the fight against world hunger, thanks partly to a $25 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and partly to its emerging profile in the controversial field of biotech. MSU beat out Cornell University and other top schools to lead an international team of researchers in a program called HarvestPlus, which will develop supernutritious staple crops for the malnourished Third World: beans with extra iron and zinc, or maize with extra vitamin A, for example. If the experiments are successful, the fortified crops could correct malnutrition-related deaths and illnesses. For example, 100,000 women internationally die during childbirth each year because of iron deficiency, and 500,000 children are blinded because they don't get enough vitamin A." (The Detroit News)

"African Priests Criticize Vatican GMO Conference" - "ROME - Organizers of an international Vatican seminar on genetically modified foods came under fire from their own yesterday when priests from Africa said it should have included more Church members critical of the crops. The development seminar, attended by experts from the United States, Europe, Asia and Africa, was meant to help the Vatican decide whether GMOs (genetically modified organisms) will get its backing - a decision that could affect the views of millions of Catholics." (Reuters)

"Vatican Ends Biotech Foods Conference" - "VATICAN CITY - The Vatican concluded a two-day conference on genetically modified organisms Tuesday with a discussion of the moral implications of tinkering with creation by splicing genes to make new plants and animals. Supporters of the new technologies said they offer great promise to mankind and deserve to be encouraged, while critics said biotech foods will not alleviate world hunger. The two camps clashed at a Vatican-sponsored conference entitled "GMO: Threat or Hope." The Vatican is expected to make a pronouncement on genetically modified organisms in the future, based on the data gathered during the seminar. Some participants have questioned whether the Vatican was getting a balanced view, since speakers in the pro-biotech camp dominated the discussions, reflecting the views of its organizer, Cardinal Renato Martino. Martino has spoken out about the potential benefits of genetically modified foods in alleviating world hunger — a prime concern of the Vatican." (Associated Press)

November 11, 2003

"Rousing Science Out of the Lab and Into the Limelight" - "Last summer, the pollster Daniel Yankelovich reported what might seem a strange finding: scientists are distressed by the media's insistence on presenting "both sides."

At first, I thought I knew what he was getting at in his paper, which appeared in Issues in Science and Technology, a publication of the National Academy of Sciences. From time to time, scientists have called me to complain that one or another of our articles was "wrong," in that it quoted (accurately) someone with whom they disagreed.

But this was not exactly the situation the scientists were complaining about. All too often, Mr. Yankelovich wrote, scientists who talk to reporters "find themselves pitted in the media against some contrarian, crank or shill who is on hand to provide `proper balance.' " The scientists who hold this view have put their finger on an important problem. In striving to be "objective," journalists try to tell all sides of the story. But it is not always easy for us to tell when a science story really has more than one side — or to know who must be heeded and who can safely be ignored. When we cast too wide a net in search of balance, we can end up painting situations as more complicated or confusing than they actually are." (New York Times)

Here's a rule-of-thumb for you Cornelia, science is never sensational in the newspaper sense - it's methodical, ponderous and ultimately boring for your average survivor-something watcher. In short, "breakthroughs" probably aren't, they usually mean some small advance might have been made, the only genuine crises is to be found in researcher X's grant funds running out and the degree of certainty of miracle cures, looming hazards/catastrophes/extinctions/disasters is incomprehensibly small. Should any of it receive feature coverage? Usually not.

Sadly, Joe Sixpack and Freda Aerobicsclass don't care but do scare - which is why we have the absurd, urgent, everything's-a-problem, hyperbolic coverage that we do.

"Illicit Trade in CFCs on the Increase - Agency" - "NAIROBI - Illegal trade in ozone-depleting substances (ODS) is rising as the deadline for zero production and consumption of such chemicals draws closer, a London-based lobby group said yesterday." (Reuters)

As changeable as the, um... weather: "US Winter to Be Volatile, Trigger Shifts in Demand" - "NEW YORK - Mother Nature will be volatile this winter, and U.S. energy suppliers should brace for dramatic shifts in demand for heating fuel from month to month, and even week to week, forecasters said." (Reuters)

Again with the butterflies... "Butterflies face climate threat" - "Monarch butterflies may lose their winter habitat within 50 years because of climate change, say researchers." (BBC News Online) | Study predicts loss of monarch winter refuges (University of Minnesota)

"When Will the Next Ice Age Begin?" - "The maxim "what goes around comes around" applies to few things more aptly than ice ages. In a rhythm attuned to regular wiggles in Earth's orbit and spin, 10 eras of spreading ice sheets and falling seas have come and gone over the last million years.

Through that span, in fact, the cold spells have so dominated that geophysicists regard warm periods like the present one, called the Holocene, as the oddities. Indeed, the scientific name for these periods — interglacials — reflects the exceptional nature of such times.

The next ice age almost certainly will reach its peak in about 80,000 years, but debate persists about how soon it will begin, with the latest theory being that the human influence on the atmosphere may substantially delay the transition." (New York Times)

"U.S. Climate Change Initiative Has Little Effect, GAO Says" - "A new report by the U.S. General Accounting Office released late last month finds that one of the goals of U.S. President George W. Bush's Global Climate Change Initiative — to cut greenhouse gas emissions intensity by 18 percent between 2002 and 2012 — would reduce the rate just 4 percentage points more than expected if no action were taken." (UN Wire)

"Crisis in the Cupboard: Big Threats to the World's Crops" - "The plentiful food supply we take for granted has come at the expense of agricultural diversity. Now the bugs and blights are taking their revenge (Public Agenda (Accra, Ghana))

"Q & A with C.S. Prakash" - "A leading expert on agricultural uses of biotechnology talks about biotech's promise for feeding people around the world--and the irrational fears holding the technology back" (CEI`s Monthly Planet)

"AFRICA: Scientists Called to Look Beyond the Lab" - "JOHANNESBURG, Nov 10 - A panel of prominent women scientists has argued that African researchers need to get out of their laboratories and enter the world of policy-making if they want to be of real benefit to their fellow Africans. The women say that researchers must also learn to market their ideas. "Scientists are more at home speaking to one another, and filing arcane papers that no one but ourselves reads, than (engaging) in public debate," said Florence Wambugu, of Harvest Biotech Foundation International, a Nairobi-based institute that was formed to help Africa benefit from biotechnology." (IPS)

"African Farmers Need Water, Not GM Crops - FAO Head" - "WASHINGTON - Irrigation and road-building are higher priorities in improving Africa's weak agriculture sector than fostering the growth of biotechnology on the continent, the head of the Food and Agriculture Organization said yesterday. FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf's remarks came on the same day European Union states postponed a vote that would have ended a five-year-old de facto ban on new biotech products." (Reuters)

"Vatican Steps in on Biotech Foods Debate" - "VATICAN CITY - The Vatican stepped into the charged debate over genetically modified food on Monday, convening a conference with a view to possibly endorsing biotech crops as a means of alleviating world hunger. However, some participants questioned whether the symposium would treat the issue equitably, saying it was stacked with speakers in the pro-biotech camp, reflecting the views of its organizer, Cardinal Renato Martino. Martino, who has frequently spoken out about the potential benefits of biotech foods, or GMOs, opened the two-day gathering — called "GMO: Threat or Hope" — by acknowledging the technology's far-reaching implications." (Associated Press)

"EU postpones biotech test case vote to December" - "BRUSSELS - European Union officials postponed a contentious decision yesterday on approving a new type of genetically modified sweetcorn that would end a five-year ban on biotech products, but will vote on it in December." (Reuters)

"PARAGUAY : Legalisation of GM Crops Imminent" - "ASUNCION, Nov 10 - Paraguay's Agriculture Ministry indicated that it is about to authorise the production and sale of transgenic crops, which are already widely cultivated despite a legal ban." (IPS)

November 10, 2003

"US Agency Should Rule on Wooden Playsets - Group" - "WASHINGTON - A decision this week by the Consumer Product Safety Commission against banning arsenic-treated wooden playsets' has disappointed environmentalists who say the agency missed a chance to send a warning about equipment already in people's backyards." (Reuters)

"Several commonly used pesticides are toxic to mitochondria in laboratory experiments" - "Scientists at Emory University School of Medicine have found in laboratory experiments that several commonly used pesticides are just as toxic or even more toxic to the mitochondria of cells than the pesticide rotenone, which already has been implicated in the development of Parkinson's disease." (Emory University Health Sciences Center)

"Book: Eco-Imperialism: Green power - black death (Paul K. Driessen)" - "“The environmental movement I helped found has lost its objectivity, morality and humanity. The pain and suffering it is inflicting on families in developing countries must no longer be tolerated. Eco-Imperialism is the first book I’ve seen that tells the truth and lays it on the line. It’s a must-read for anyone who cares about people, progress and our planet.” - Patrick Moore, Greenpeace co-founder" (eco-imperialism.com)

"At Meetings, U.S. to Seek Support for Broad Ozone Exemptions" - "The two-decade effort to eliminate chemicals that harm the ozone layer faces its most serious test in recent years this week as the Bush administration seeks international support for broad exemptions to a 2005 ban on a popular pesticide. Many American farmers say the pesticide, methyl bromide, is vital as they try to compete with farm production in countries where fields are tended by low-paid laborers. Critics of the proposed exemptions, led by the European Union, say that substitute chemicals are already in wide use and that the American request threatens progress toward repairing the ozone layer, which shields the earth from radiation that causes cancers and other problems." (New York Times)

"Study: Global warming to impact Calif. in 20 years" - "SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Global warming will substantially affect California in about 20 years, experts say, warning that the state is more vulnerable because of its coastline, its climate and its dependence on Sierra Nevada snowpack for water and hydroelectricity. "It's going to affect all of us," said Robert Wilkinson of the University of California, Santa Barbara, School of Environmental Science and Management, who wrote a 432-page treatise on the impact on California. It means a shorter ski season in the Sierra, and poorer habitat for endangered salmon in lower streams. It may mean more wildfires and more floods. Extreme heat waves, easier spread of diseases and increased air pollution all could imperil health. Oceans that rose 4 inches to 8 inches over the last century could rise up to 3 feet this century, swamping San Francisco Bay estuaries and endangering pumps sending freshwater from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to the Bay Area, San Joaquin Valley and Southern California." (Associated Press)

"Road to Milan" - "At the beginning of October, Russian President Vladimir Putin played a "knight's move" on global warming alarmists. Russians -- chess players all -- know the value of the knight, the chess piece that can jump over the opponent's defenses to surprise him, and fond of imitating the knight in their approach to national strategy. At the World Climate Change Conference in Moscow, they surprised the scaremongers and forces opposed to economic growth by not only failing to back the Kyoto treaty, but re-opening the scientific debate over the causes and scope of climate change. The myth of scientific "consensus" on the issue should now be buried once and for all." (Iain Murray, TCS)

"A regional solution to climate change" - "WHILE FEDERAL legislation to regulate greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming has yet to pass, several New England states are at the forefront of efforts to develop a regional solution. What's needed now is a coordinated effort to get agreement among government policy makers and private sector interests on general principles to guide development of an effective regional strategy, one that could serve as a model for the rest of the country. The New England Council is taking such a step by convening a forum on climate change today in Boston. It will be attended by policy makers and business leaders from throughout the Northeast. The outcome is anticipated to be a declaration and set of principles encouraging such a regional approach." (James T. Brett, The Boston Globe)

"New estimate doubles shipping emissions" - "Tankers and trawlers may release as much nitrogen oxide into atmosphere as US." (NSU)

"States Planning Their Own Suits on Power Plants" - "WASHINGTON, Nov. 8 — The attorneys general of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut say they are ready to open a new round of litigation to force power plants to make billions of dollars of pollution-control improvements after a decision by the Bush administration to abandon more than 50 investigations into possible violations of the Clean Air Act.

The state officials said they would move quickly to fill some of the void left by the Environmental Protection Agency, which decided this week to drop the investigations at the old coal-fired plants, a major source of the air pollution that drifts over the Northeast.

But they said that the states have far fewer resources than the federal government does to battle one of the nation's most powerful industries and that they would have to focus their actions against fewer utilities." (New York Times)

"Organic? No thanks" - "It was the cheeses which did it; the five grim, rubbery, flavourless specimens, which died on the tongue and murdered the spirit. Throughout a long, dreary day, I and chef John Torode had been taste testing 80 organic products in 16 different categories. It seemed a good idea at the time. After all, sales of organics are booming, as we learnt last week with the news that they have just topped £1 billion a year. Britain is now the third biggest consumer of organic produce in the world after the United States and Germany. The time had come to see what was out there.

The results, as you can read for yourself in today's Observer Food Magazine, were dismal. Yes, there were some stand-out items that scored five out of five. (Ooh, the Swaddles Farm bacon!) But among the ranks of crisps and dried spaghetti, apples, marmalades, pasta sauces and smoked salmon there was a legion of mediocre products, many that scored zero or one. And then there were those terrible excuses for Cheddar. It confirmed to me what I had long thought: that the billion-pound organic food market is, for the most part, a gigantic con, and that its willing victims are the affluent middle classes." (Jay Rayner, The Observer)

"Study Raises Doubt About Allergy to Genetic Corn" - "Remember StarLink corn? Three years ago this genetically engineered corn was found in taco shells and other foods, even though it had not been approved for human consumption. The discovery prompted food recalls and disrupted farm exports. Dozens of consumers claimed they had suffered potentially dangerous allergic reactions after eating food thought to contain the corn. But a paper appearing today in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology reports that one vocal consumer who complained about allergic reactions turns out not to have been allergic to StarLink corn after all. The report casts further doubt on whether StarLink caused allergies, and it is likely to buttress contentions long made by biotechnology supporters that the dangers of StarLink were overblown." (New York Times)

"Consumers and the Future of Biotech Foods in the US" - "The article looks at expected trends in biotechnology products and considers how consumers may react to these products. The distribution of benefits from current biotechnologies suggest consumers gain little--future biotechnologies will likely have more to offer consumers.

Consumers have varied preferences but they have grown to expect high quality and a variety of choice. Agricultural biotechnology can be a tremendous source of variety-both in terms of choices of production techniques for farmers in developed and developing countries and in terms of new and different products for consumers. Further, biotechnology may provide food quality enhancements not previously available (nonallergenistic foods, for example) that consumers may greatly desire." (USDA/ERS)

"EU Prepares for Test Vote on Five-Year GMO Ban" - "BRUSSELS - A bitter transatlantic trade row over gene-spliced crops may be nearing its end as the European Union considers ending a five-year ban on biotech products, starting with a type of sweetcorn. Representatives of the bloc's 15 member states meet on Monday to discuss whether to approve a genetically modified (GM) sweetcorn variety, despite continued consumer skepticism about the controversial technology. If they vote 'yes', the EU's unofficial blockade on new GM imports would end, clearing the way for a range of GM products and pleasing key EU trade partners like the pro-biotech United States." (Reuters)

"Vatican Debates Genetically Modified Organisms - "GMO’s": Threat – or Hope?" - "VATICAN CITY, NOV. 9, 2003 - An international symposium will debate the topic "Genetically Modified Organisms, Threat or Hope?" at the Vatican this Monday and Tuesday.

Organized by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, the symposium will analyze the ethical implications of genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) in light of Church social teaching. Council Prefect Cardinal Renato Martino, a former "United Nations observer", will preside.

Talks are expected to zero in on the food shortage affecting tens of millions of the world’s poor.

The symposium will include four sessions:
1) GMO’s and scientific research;
2) GMO’s, food, and trade;
3) GMO’s, the environment and human health;
4) GMO’s and future of technologies.

The Secretaries of Agriculture, Health and Human Services, and Environmental Protection from several countries will attend, as well as scientists, ethicists, and economists from the world over.

Representatives from the Pontifical Academy of Science and the Pontifical Academy of Life, respectively, will also address the session proceedings." (Zenit.org) [Complete]

Good grief! "Barbara Sumner Burstyn: New Zealand's unsullied natural image seems veil of lies" - "Living overseas for two-thirds of my time, I'm furiously proud of being a Kiwi. Anyone who travels will tell you: being a New Zealander confers a certain status, a goodwill that comes attached to the name of our country.

But last week, with the lifting of the moratorium on GM, despite extensive protest and overflowing evidence that the jury is still out on the safety and sustainability of GM, I became embarrassed. It's as if all the clean, green marketing, the image New Zealand has worked so hard to cultivate around the world, is no more than a thin veil of lies." (New Zealand Herald)

Even worse: "Seeds of conflict" - "Percy Schmeiser vs. Monsanto reaches Canada's Supreme Court early next year. It's a 21st Century case study of technology" (Judy Steed, Toronto Star)

November 7, 2003

"Food Labels Won't Cure Obesity" - "Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., introduced a bill this week that would require fast-food and chain restaurants to display nutrition information for food choices on their menus. But experience with food labeling and a new study suggest the bill’s rationale may be based more in wishful thinking than fact." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

You couldn't make this stuff up: "New Environmental Rules For War Needed, UNEP Chief Says" - "International law should be updated to minimize war's impact on the environment, U.N. Environment Program Director Klaus Toepfer said in a statement released today." (UN Wire) | Annan calls for expanded laws against environmental damage in war (UN News)

"A sensible discussion about saving the planet?" - "A TORY MSP was on his hind legs talking about bringing back the birch. What’s new, I hear you ask. But, on this occasion, Jamie McGrigor was referring to trees. His punishing remarks came in Parliament yesterday during a Green Party debate on saving the planet and whatnot. Jamie said he’d spent most of his life in Scotland, where he’d seen many erections. Pylons, hydro-electric dams, bridges, you name it. Stewart Stevenson (SNP) noted perspicaciously: "I sometimes think Jamie only knows that he’s thinking when he hears himself saying it. I just wish he wouldn’t always share it with us." (The Scotsman)

"Bush takes quiet aim at 'green' laws" - "Methods range from easing regulations to siding with industry in lawsuits." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"White House Acknowledges Climate Report Not Subjected to Sound Science Law" - "Washington, D.C. - The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy has publicly acknowledged that the National Assessment on Climate Change was not "subjected to OSTP's Information Quality Act guidelines." This acknowledgement now appears prominently on the document posted on the U. S. Global Change Research Program's web site (http://www.usgcrp.gov/usgcrp/nacc/). With this admission, the Competitive Enterprise Institute has withdrawn its complaint in federal court that the National Assessment did not meet the minimal scientific standards required by the Federal Data Quality Act." (Competitive Enterprise Institute)

"Ice Cores May Yield Clues To 5,000-year-old Mystery" - "COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The latest expeditions to ice caps in the high, tropical Peruvian Andes Mountains by Ohio State University scientists may shed light on a mysterious global climate change they believe occurred more than 5,000 years ago." (Ohio State University)

"Hot potato revisited: A lack-of-progress report on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change" - "YOU might think that a policy issue which puts at stake hundreds of billions of dollars' worth of global output would arouse at least the casual interest of the world's economics and finance ministries. You would be wrong. Global warming and the actions contemplated to mitigate it could well involve costs of that order. Assessing the possible scale of future greenhouse-gas emissions, and hence of man-made global warming, involves economic forecasts and economic calculations. Those forecasts and calculations will in turn provide the basis for policy on the issue. Yet governments have been content to leave these questions to a body—the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)—which appears to lack the necessary expertise. The result is all too likely to be bad policy, at potentially heavy cost to the world economy." (The Economist)

"Alarm at pesticide levels in organic produce" - "Expensively-priced organic food sold in supermarkets has been found to contain pesticide residues equal to the maximum limit legally allowed in traditional food products. In some cases, organic products sampled by health department officers contained pesticide residues that should not be detected in any foods, Food Standards Australia has reported in its latest bulletin." (The Sydney Morning Herald)

"BFG puts organic disaster behind it" - "Nearly three years after supermarket Iceland's disastrous attempt to convert the nation to organic food, the chain is showing the first real signs of recovery.

The company, now renamed Big Food Group - whose share price plunged from 309p after Christmas 2000 to a low of just 24p - yesterday revealed that the core Iceland business has climbed back into profit in its first half. The 760-strong supermarket chain chalked up operating profits of £3m, compared to a £7m loss at the same stage a year ago.

The group, which also owns the Booker cash and carry chain and Woodward Foodservice, which supplies the catering industry, recorded a pre-tax profit of £15.9m, up from £6.6m a year ago.

Chief executive Bill Grimsey has faced an uphill task in rebuilding the business since the organic misadventure. Sales collapsed, and founder and chairman Malcolm Walker departed amid allegations of insider dealing after he cashed in shares worth £13m just before the rot set in." (The Guardian)

"Chinks in the organic food chain" - "As sales reach a record £1bn annually, critics say the industry has sold its soul to the supermarkets - which may lead to its demise." (John Vidal, The Guardian)

"Amaizing: Genetic modification works" - "FINICKY consumers in the rich world, particularly in Europe, may be rejecting genetically modified crops, but a report by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), a not-for-profit organisation based in Ithaca, New York state, suggests that many poor countries are embracing them enthusiastically. The report examines the take-up of maize that has had the gene for a natural insecticide produced by a bacterium called Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt, engineered into it.

At the moment, according to the ISAAA, 9% of the world's maize crop is lost to insect pests. That loss costs $5.7 billion, while a further $550m is spent on insecticide. The organisation reckons the widespread deployment of Bt maize could halve both figures. It reports that trials of the modified crop raised yields by up to 23% in China, by up to 24% in Brazil, and by up to 41% in the Philippines. Gains in countries where Bt maize is already planted commercially, such as America, Argentina, South Africa and Spain, range from 5% to 10%." (The Economist)

"[Switzerland] Controversial GM crop trial approved" - "Scientists have received permission from the government to begin an outdoor trial of genetically modified (GM) wheat." (swissinfo)

"GM opposition a threat to poor nations: Whelan" - "The increasingly bitter debate over the safety of genetically modified crops threatens to sabotage all the benefits that biotechnology can bring to agriculture and the developing world, federal international co-operation minister Susan Whelan warned last week." (The Western Producer)

"GM wheat a bad idea: U.S. study" - "The marketability of Roundup Ready wheat is under attack, this time south of the border. A study by a U.S. economist has concluded that the introduction of genetically modified wheat would result in lost sales and lower prices for U.S. wheat growers. The study by Robert Wisner, an agricultural economist at Iowa State University, reaches the same conclusion about GM wheat as has the Canadian Wheat Board. Buyers don't want it, so there is no reason to grow it. "The issue is not food safety," Wisner told reporters during an Oct. 30 teleconference call. "The real issue from a marketing standpoint is consumer attitudes and perceptions." (The Western Producer)

"Chewing the GM cud" - "07/11/03 - If nothing else, the opening decade of the 21st century will go down in the annals of time as the period the world went to war over GMOs. When it comes to genetically modified organisms, passions run deep and the path to reconciling polar opinions - if indeed possible - is likely to be long and arduous. As French anti-GMO campaigner Jose Bove continues his globetrotting in the quest to urge populations to reject GM crops, the US government is taking Europe to a WTO dispute panel, convinced that the 15 member states are acting against the rules by upholding a ban on GM crops and foodstuffs. Consumers associations are pitted against the biotech industry, global governments against each other, and even at a regional level, local councils are nominating themselves as non-GM zones." (FoodNavigator.com)

"Denmark to host international conference on co-existence of crops" - "Some 250 researchers from Europe and North America will meet in Denmark next week for a conference on the co-existence of genetically modified, conventional and organic crops, the Danish Institute for Agricultural Sciences said on Thursday. The conference, which will take place in Elsinore on November 13 and 14, will focus on how crops grown in different ways can be best cultivated side by side, and is aimed at "establishing guidelines so the agricultural community can continue to deliver the various products", the institute said." (EU Business)

November 6, 2003

It ain't ma fault! I caught obesity I tell you! "Can a virus make you fat?" - "Researchers investigate a theory that obesity may be contagious." (New York Daily News)

"Save the planet by driving to the supermarket" - "DRIVING to the supermarket for the weekly shop can indirectly cause less damage to the environment than walking to a local shop, according to government-funded research.

According to the campaign group Transport 2000, heavy goods vehicles used by supermarkets are five to eight times more efficient for each tonne of goods carried than the vans used by local shops. The report says: “Generally speaking, the smaller shops perform less well on greenhouse gas emissions when compared with the larger supermarkets. Smaller shops use smaller, less efficient delivery vehicles than the supermarkets and have less well integrated supply chains.” (The Times) [Subscription outside UK]

"Green policy: just add water" - "Last week, a flagship EU environmental policy was unveiled - not the one initially planned but a weakened version. Andrew Osborn on the power of lobbying" (The Guardian)

"Leader: Against nature" - "If the leaks are to be believed, the government is pondering whether to scrap its English environmental watchdog, English Nature. Any move to do so would be a backward step. English Nature, which champions biodiversity and nature conservation, is a vital part of the checks and balances that ensure that environmental concerns are not lost in the rush for economic advancement. The need is all the more acute as the government wants to build roads, airports and new towns across Britain. English Nature's outspoken views on GM crops probably lost it friends in Downing Street, but this is not enough of a reason to dismember the agency." (The Guardian)

"Can Global Climate Change Panel Float Above Politics?" - "BROOKLIN, Canada, Nov 3 -- While battles rage in the U.S. administration over cutting greenhouse gas emissions, conservative lobby groups and environmentalists in Washington and beyond continue to debate the objectivity of the global Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change." (IPS)

"Kyoto critics better duck" - "When you question a multi-billion-dollar windfall, you'd better look out and, make no mistake about it, the Kyoto protocol translates into monster money for many researchers, bureaucrats and public institutions.

Kyoto is also perhaps the most potent weapon in the arsenal of those who oppose western capitalism and push instead for massive intervention.

That's why Toronto-based analyst Steve McIntyre and University of Guelph economics professor Ross McKitrick had better be battening down the hatches. Their paper, published last week in the respected British journal, Energy and Environment, is arguably the most damaging attack to date on the science behind Kyoto.

In a nutshell, they convincingly reveal that flawed calculations, incorrect data and a biased selection of climate records led Kyoto linchpin Michael Mann of the University of Virginia to declare that the 20th-century temperature rise was unprecedented in the past millennium. After correcting the data and then employing Mann's own methodologies, they found no such increase in global temperature variations had taken place, which places Kyoto's whole rationale in question." (Michael Campbell, Calgary Herald)

"Climate bill posed risks to economy" - "Last week, The Oregonian editorialized in favor of legislation known as the Climate Stewardship Act, which would require a nationwide cap on industrial emissions that some say cause global warming ("Climate change in the Senate," Oct. 29). I opposed the bill because it had more to do with politics than science, and it would be most harmful to Oregon's economy.

If scientists agree on one thing, it is that nature is in a constant state of change. And our understanding of climate change is very limited. Some think automobiles and industrialization are to blame for Earth's current warming period. Yet, just as many scientists point to natural indicators -- from ancient tree rings to glacial ice cores -- as evidence that the planet regularly experiences both warming and cooling trends.

This year, the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics reported that "the 20th century has neither the warmest nor the most extreme weather of the past 1,000 years." In fact, the center concluded that the period between A.D. 800 and 1300 was warmer than the current temperature trend. Clearly, Henry Ford and modern manufacturing cannot be blamed for the weather of the Middle Ages." (Sen. Gordon Smith, The Oregonian)

"[UK] Support for onshore wind farms" - "Onshore wind farms were given a significant impetus yesterday by planning guidance from the government to local authorities, insisting they must "promote and encourage" renewables rather than restrict them as many do at present. Targets for renewable energy will have to be introduced into regional plans as a minimum requirement, and increased as soon as they are achieved. The government also insists that wider environmental and economic benefits, such as combating global warming and sea level rise, should be considered when deciding whether a proposal gets planning permission." (The Guardian)

"Lawyers at E.P.A. Say It Will Drop Pollution Cases" - "WASHINGTON, Nov. 5 — A change in enforcement policy will lead the Environmental Protection Agency to drop investigations into 50 power plants for past violations of the Clean Air Act, lawyers at the agency who were briefed on the decision this week said.

The lawyers said in interviews on Wednesday that the decision meant the cases would be judged under new, less stringent rules set to take effect next month, rather than the stricter rules in effect at the time the investigations began.

The lawyers said the new rules include exemptions that would make it almost impossible to sustain the investigations into the plants, which are scattered around the country and owned by 10 utilities." (New York Times)

"[UK] Sales of organic food top £1bn for the first time as families come back for more" - "Desire for better health and quality drive growth in the market, but high cost is still the main deterrent" (The Guardian)

"Lessons From the Recall" - "High levels of a cancer-causing natural toxin have been found in every single organic cornmeal product tested by the UK's food safety watchdog, the Food Standards Agency.

That's a 100 percent failure rate, folks! The FSA instituted a UK-wide recall of the contaminated organic cornmeals.

This is a huge, though belated reality check for consumers who think they're getting something safer when they pay exorbitant prices for organic foods. But don't expect much media coverage of this hugely embarrassing organic incident. Nor any retreat by organic food partisans in the ongoing fight for the hearts and minds of consumers." (Alex Avery, TCS)

"Defending nature is not anti-science" - "Pro-GM scientists should admit defeat and redirect their talents" (Eva Novotny, The Guardian)

"Asking the Wrong Questions?" - "Anti-GM activists draw wrong conclusions from interesting new study." (Ronald Bailey, Reason)

"EU sets possible dates for vote on GMO moratorium" - "BRUSSELS - The European Union's unofficial five-year ban on most GM products is facing a key challenge with an upcoming test vote on authorising imports of genetically modified sweet corn, documents showed this week." (Reuters)

"New study supports GM crop co-existence" - "As the debate in the UK heats up over GM crops, new research sourced from Spain claims the co-existence between GM and non-GM crops can occur without economic and commercial problems." (FoodNavigator.com)

"Brazil proposes new biosafety law" - "[RIO DE JANEIRO] The Brazilian presidency has proposed new legislation on the safety and surveillance of activities involving genetically modified (GM) organisms.

The proposal, which was sent last week to the National Congress, includes setting up a National Biosafety Council, made up of 12 ministers, which would advise on the formulation and implementation of governmental policy and draw up guidelines for other federal organisations.

"Once approved, the new bill will put an end to several years of judicial litigation on GM issues," says a statement by the minister of the Civil House of the Republic's Presidency, José Dirceu de Oliveira e Silva. "It will harmonise national legislation and ensure the existence of technical-scientific analyses on political decisions on whether or not to permit GM organisms." (SciDev.Net)

"Upper Austria to appeal against Commission rejection of GMO ban" - "The regional parliament of Upper Austria announced on 4 November that it is to appeal against the European Commission's decision not to allow the region to declare itself a genetically modified organism (GMO) free zone. The Commission rejected the request by Upper Austria on 2 September following consultations with the European Food Safety Authority. The reasons given for its decision were, first, that no new scientific evidence had emerged to support a ban, and second, that Upper Austria had failed to prove the existence of a problem specific to the region that justified such an approach." (Cordis News)

November 5, 2003

"U.S. Rejects Arsenic - Treated Lumber Ban" - "WASHINGTON -- Federal regulators decided Tuesday against banning arsenic-treated lumber for playground equipment, saying most manufacturers no longer use the wood-protecting chemical that is believed to increase the risk of cancer. The Consumer Product Safety Commission voted unanimously to adopt a staff recommendation that a ban was unnecessary, given the shift away from treated wood in playground structures, decks and picnic tables. The industry agreed in 2002, following discussions with the Environmental Protection Agency, to stop building products with the treated wood by the end of the year. The EPA has removed the pesticide, chromated copper arsenate, from its list of approved chemicals. The pesticide protects lumber from decay and insect damage." (AP)

"The new lords of misrule" - "In this post-scientific age of ours it is not only routine to brandish scares that are based on non-science, it is also considered normal to bury any news of dangers that conflict with the received new religions. What is truly remarkable, however, is that a few individuals are now empowered to threaten the health and wealth of whole populations, by their misappliance of science." (Number Watch)

"La Niña influences Amazon flooding" - "Work published in Nature announces a significant correlation between sediment deposition in the Amazon and the ENSO. Result of a research partnership between the IRD, the Bolivian Meteorology and Hydrology Centre and the universities of Washington and California. It is a major advance in the study of the Amazon Basin's hydrology since the beginning of the XXth century. They further knowledge of the impact of climatic variability on the processes controlling the sediment transport and deposition between the Andes and the Atlantic Ocean." (Institut de Recherche Pour le Développement)

"Global Warming Means [more] Snow for Great Lakes - Report" - "WASHINGTON - In theory, global warming should be a good thing for the Great Lakes, right? Wrong. Global warming means more snow, not less, for the snowbound region along the eastern border between Canada and the United States, researchers said on Tuesday. Their study of snowfall records in the Great Lakes region and elsewhere suggests there has been a significant increase in snowfall in the Great Lakes region since the 1930s but not anywhere else." (Reuters)

"Is drought over?" - "A ballroom full of weather and water experts in a downtown Denver hotel Tuesday couldn't reach a conclusion to one short question: Is the drought over yet?

Some said this drought might be just the beginning, and others said global warming over the next two decades could drastically shrink areas covered by snow and cut Colorado's vital spring runoff by one-third.

Tree rings indicate droughts lasted 50 to 100 years in the 800s, 1300s and 1500s, said Mike Dettinger, a research scientist with the U.S. Geological Service.

But droughts such as the most recent one parching Colorado have occurred about one-third more often than normal over the past century, he said.

"You have to go back to the time of Christ to find (the same small number of) short droughts as we had in the past century," Dettinger told hundreds of scientists and water managers at the Department of Interior's Water 2025 Science and Technology Workshop." (Denver Post)

"What the Satellite Record Reveals" - "The surface record of city-based ground thermometers is behind all the claims of recent climatic warming. But how reliable is that record? The satellite record reveals not only that the surface record is plain wrong, but careful analysis of the satellite data shows exactly where and how the surface record is wrong." (Still Waiting For Greenhouse)

"Kyoto seen drying up research on climate" - "TORONTO -- Ottawa is spending billions to meet its Kyoto Protocol commitments while neglecting its own scientific effort to understand climate change, raising "a high probability of significant waste," according to an independent report commissioned by the Meteorological Service of Canada.

Ottawa spends an estimated $45-million each year on various studies on climate change, but the work is not co-ordinated by a central body, according to the study carried out last spring by Toronto-based consulting firm The Impact Group.

Instead, the money is doled out among as many as 600 different researchers, operating in more than 30 universities in nine provinces, and paid through seven different research agencies, each with its own agenda.

As a result, the report says, Canada is "struggling to meet minimum climate science-data-collection needs at an internationally accepted standard." Much of the current research lacks specificity and will be of little practical use in mitigating the varying impacts of climate change on different regions of Canada, the report suggests." (Michael Den Tandt, Globe and Mail)

"The Reckoning: Global Warming is Likely to Cause Huge Climatic Changes -- and Possibly a New Ice Age" - "What killed the saber-toothed tiger, the mastodon and the mammoth, formidable animals that were on top of the food chain in North America 20,000 years ago? Was it fierce Stone Age hunters as has commonly been assumed, or the little-studied but very real phenomenon of abrupt climate change?

This question is not just of academic interest, to be debated by pipe-smoking professors at conferences. The rapid natural climate changes at the end of the Ice Age could be mirrored by man-made global warming in the 21st century, leading to devastating consequences for the planet’s biodiversity and the human race itself. As the Bush administration rebuffs international treaties and embarks on a leisurely and largely redundant 10-year study of global warming science, the evidence we have already amassed points to a climatic emergency, and a vastly changed Earth in 2100 and beyond. To avert that possibility, scientists say we’d need to reduce emissions of the most important greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide (CO2), from transportation and industry by 80 percent, a near impossibility given current political realities." (Jim Motavalli, emagazine.com)

"Why Texas farmers should worry about global warming" - "Rather than worry about its effect on weather, farmers should worry about new laws passed in the name of preventing global warming.

Mainstream dictates that the worst thing about global warming for farmers is the effect it will have on their crops. After all, environmental advocacy groups consistently predict floods, droughts, blistering hot summers, more violent weather, and other kinds of mayhem, but concerns about weather are greatly overblown.

Scientists are still in debate about what causes global climate change and they say whatever warming takes place, if any at all, will be exceedingly small and will occur mostly at night, during the winter and in higher latitudes such as Canada and Siberia.

What’s more, global warming would probably be accompanied by more precipitation and higher levels of carbon dioxide in the air, both contributing to higher yields. So actually, farmers (and their customers) in Texas would benefit if we enter a cycle of global warming. After all, during the Medieval Warming Period (AD 100-1300), Greenland was green, and there were vineyards in England. What scientists do agree on is that the earth’s climate has changed over hundreds of years— always either warming or cooling — and nobody is certain what causes this." (Wilson County News)

"Ethanol's False Promise" - "Ethanol is a gasoline additive made from corn. Supporters argue it creates cleaner fuel and lessens US dependence on foreign oil. Farmers and agribusiness in the Midwest's corn-growing states see it as a way to put money in farmers' and companies' pockets and save family farms that might otherwise go under.

But ethanol is rarely available outside the Midwest, and scientific evidence is mixed at best on whether ethanol really reduces pollution. Other studies indicate it takes more energy to create a gallon of ethanol than a gallon of ethanol produces. The ethanol industry has survived to date mainly on federal tax subsidies." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"Premier's warning to coal industry" - "AUSTRALIA'S coal export industry must embrace greenhouse gas "offsets" if it wants to do business with Europe and Japan in the future, Premier Bob Carr said yesterday.

The Premier's warning of hardening attitudes to carbon and the "indisputable" evidence of global warming came as he formerly opened BHP Billiton's Dendrobium colliery at Mt Kembla.

"When I was in Europe a few weeks ago talking to a big bank in Holland, they revealed there are two Australian coal suppliers who have been told by European buyers that not only should they present them with coal, but greenhouse offsets," Mr Carr told a gathering of company executives, miners and guests.

"That's a challenge for us, to see our coal being sent overseas accompanied by a certificate that in effect says measures are being taken back in Australia to offset the release of carbon that comes when the coal is incinerated making steel or in power generation plants." (Illawarra Mercury)

"FDA Panel Backs Cloning In Agriculture" - "An advisory panel of the Food and Drug Administration yesterday tentatively backed animal cloning as an agricultural tool but expressed concern that the technique could pose excessive risks to animals.

Eight of 10 panel members said they were confident it would be safe to eat food products derived from cloned animals or their offspring, the key conclusion of a draft FDA report released last week. But some members of the Veterinary Medicine Advisory Committee, meeting in Rockville, appeared uneasy about the level of animal suffering that a large cloning industry might entail, and the panel deadlocked 5 to 5 on whether the FDA had properly characterized such risks. Several panel members said the scientific data on that issue are disturbingly thin and the question needs more research." (Washington Post)

"Panel Doubts Finding on Cloned-Food Safety" - "ROCKVILLE, Md., Nov. 4 — Just days after the Food and Drug Administration announced preliminary findings that meat and milk from cloned animals were safe to consume, a scientific review panel for the agency said on Tuesday that there was not enough data to support that conclusion and asked for more studies." (New York Times)

"Blow for anti-GM protesters" - "Four GM crop protesters were wrongly cleared of trespass after a protest at a crop trial, appeal judges have ruled. Two judges at the High Court in London overturned a district judge's decision to acquit the four, who shackled themselves to tractors during a demonstration in Dorset. The district judge was wrong to accept the protesters' defence that they were protecting the environment, said the judges. The four cannot be tried again, but GM protesters will not be able to use the same defence in future trials." (BBC News Online)

"Canada Ponders New Step for Crop, Food Approvals" - "WINNIPEG, Manitoba - Canada is examining whether it should add a new step to its crop and food safety approval system that would ensure markets accept novel foods before farmers start growing them, an agriculture official said on Tuesday. Until now, new foods have had to pass rigorous scientific tests for food, feed and environmental safety to be approved for production in Canada. But farm and environmental groups have argued the government should also consider the impact new foods have on markets." (Reuters)

"[New Zealand] Organic food production could be forced out of existence" - "A study promoting the idea of co-existence of GE and non-GE crops may signal that the biotech industry intends to force organic production out of existence- or at least force it inside. The proposals made in a new study in Spain are ironic given the decision in New Zealand to allow release of GE organisms outside of the lab: if the study's conclusions are to be believed organic production may be forced " into the lab" to maintain its purity from GE contamination." (Press Release)

November 4, 2003

"Study reveals 'tiny' flying risk" - "The average middle-aged long-haul flyer has just a one in 40,000 chance of developing a dangerous blood clot as a result, say experts. An Australian government-backed study says that the risk of DVT to those with no extra 'risk factors' is very small." (BBC News Online)

"Conference Addresses Risks To Human Health From Chemicals" - "Leading international experts and government officials from around the world began meeting Saturday in Bangkok to discuss strategies to protect vulnerable populations from threats presented by chemicals, which cause approximately 340,000 preventable deaths per year worldwide, according to the International Labor Organization.

"Chemicals are necessary elements in everyday life, but to use them safely is essential for the well-being of millions of people and for protecting the environment in both the industrialized and developing world," said Henrique Cavalcanti, president of the Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety and Brazil's former minister of environment and the Amazon. The Bangkok meeting is the forum's fourth session." (U.N. Wire)

"Kenya's rural growth pits man against beast" - "Masai near Nairobi have killed 12 lions in recent months to protest 'over-protection' of wildlife." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"Heavy hits on enviro-pessimism" - "It was not a good week for the enviro-pessimists. Enviro-pessimists are those who believe the planet is heading for catastrophe as a result of man's meddling. But Americans have always preferred optimism to pessimism. And as it happens, the litany of gloom put forward by the enviro-pessimists just doesn't seem to be selling very well." (Tom Bray, The Washington Times)

"Deep in the Amazon Forest, Vast Questions About Global Climate Change" - "TAPAJÓS NATIONAL FOREST, Brazil — Viewed from the top of a tower 150 feet over an exuberant canopy of green, the vast Amazon jungle appears to be a neatly functioning organism. Trees in immeasurable numbers stretch away to the horizon here, their leaves open to the sun, eager to feed on the light that streams down from the sky and perforates the stifling tropical heat.

Down on the ground, however, the longstanding debate about the Amazon's role in global climate change is intensifying. The Amazon is the largest tropical forest in the world — bigger than all of Europe, with Brazil's section alone more than half the size of the continental United States. And it has always been assumed to be essential to inhibiting global warming by drawing in carbon dioxide during photosynthesis.

Carbon dioxide is one of the main gases that contribute to global warming and the much-dreaded greenhouse effect. But it has never been established whether the rain forest here is in fact functioning as a giant sink that "sequesters," or traps and absorbs, carbon." (New York Times)

"Global warming boosting tropical reefs?" - "Rising sea temperature expands range of Caribbean coral." (NSU)

"As Earth Warms, the Hottest Issue Is Energy" - "Suppose that over the next decade or two the forecasts of global warming start to come true. Color has drained from New England's autumns as maple trees die, and the Baltimore oriole can no longer be found south of Buffalo. The Dust Bowl has returned to the Great Plains, and Arctic ice is melting into open water. Upheavals in weather, the environment and life are accelerating around the world.

Then what?

If global warming occurs as predicted, there will be no easy way to turn the Earth's thermostat back down. The best that most scientists would hope for would be to slow and then halt the warming, and that would require a top-to-bottom revamping of the world's energy systems, shifting from fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas to alternatives that in large part do not yet exist." (New York Times)

"Climate change in the vineyards: The taste of global warming" - "A study of the world's top 27 wine regions' temperatures and wine quality over the past 50 years reveals that rising temperatures have already impacted vintage quality. As for the next 50 years, climate modeling for these same wine regions predicts a 2°C temperature rise that is likely to make cool growing regions better producers of some grape varieties, and already warm wine regions less hospitable for viticulture." (Geological Society of America)

"Hockey Stick Slapped: Climate change's Bellesiles?" - "One of the pillars on which the alarmist case for doing something about global warming rests is the contention that the 20th century was the warmest in the last thousand years. This proposition is most dramatically expressed in the "hockey stick" graph contained in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's third assessment report. The graph shows temperatures mostly flat for the last 1,000 years, before a sudden, sharp rise in the 20th century that, on a graph, looks like the blade of a hockey stick. The graph is very persuasive — it caused Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) to express alarm when he first saw it in May 2000, and played a part in McCain's bringing to the Senate floor the misguided and economically destructive Climate Stewardship Act, which was defeated last week." (Iain Murray, NRO)

From CO2 Science Magazine this week:
Major Report:

"Enhanced or Impaired? Human Health in a CO2-Enriched Warmer World" - "Hardly a heat wave passes but what climate alarmists are quick to blame global warming for any excess deaths that may have been associated with it.  If the whole truth be told, however, global warming would likely reduce the number of lives lost to extreme thermal conditions, considering what happens at the cold end of the temperature spectrum.  In addition, CO2-induced changes in the composition of the plants we use for food and medicine may actually be improving human health and extending human lifespan." (co2science.org)

"Stephen Schneider on The Case for Climate Change Action" - "We post the last of five consecutive Editorials dealing with testimony presented at the 1 October 2003 hearing of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, which was chaired by Senator John McCain of Arizona, who along with Senator Joseph Lieberman is seeking to enact legislation mandating reductions in anthropogenic CO2 emissions within the United States." ( co2science.org )

Subject Index Summaries:
"Sea Level (North American Measurements)" - "Assessments of sea level trends along North American coasts provide no evidence of an anthropogenic-induced increase in the mean rate of sea level rise.  They do, however, provide evidence of decreased storminess in response to global warming." ( co2science.org )

"Decomposition (Processes and Properties)" - "What are the factors that influence the rate at which plant organic matter decomposes in soils?  How are these factors influenced by the air's temperature and CO2 concentration?  And what is the net result for the rate at which carbon is sequestered in the planet's soils?" ( co2science.org )

Plant Growth Data:
"This week we add new results (blue background) of plant growth responses to atmospheric CO2 enrichment obtained from experiments described in the peer-reviewed scientific literature for: Perennial Ryegrass, Purple Clover, Sundial Lupine, White Clover and Yarrow." ( co2science.org )

Journal Reviews:
"Is Stratospheric Ozone Loss Driving Antarctic Cooling?" - "Whether it is or it isn't, the results of this study should serve as an impetus to open our minds to the realization that we yet have much to learn about earth's climate system that could radically alter our current views on CO2 and climate." ( co2science.org )

"Global Warming and the Outlook for Malaria in Britain" - "Will malaria return to ravage Britain, as it did in times past, in response to the supposedly unprecedented global warming of the past century?  Climate alarmists say it will.  People who know what they're talking about say otherwise." ( co2science.org )

"Response of Transgenic Rice Plants to Elevated CO2" - "Will genetically-engineered plants maintain their ability to respond to atmospheric CO2 enrichment?  Or will this ability be reduced in CO2-enriched air?  Or possibly increased?" ( co2science.org )

"Are Physical Properties of Stomata Unresponsive to CO2?" - "Have the physical properties of leaf stomata changed over the ages as the air's CO2 content has fluctuated from significantly less than what it is today to several times more than its current concentration?  Some studies say yes, others say no." ( co2science.org )

"The Power of Plants to Alter Their Physical Environment" - "Earth's plants are well-equipped to deal with a number of climate change phenomena that have for years been considered to be highly detrimental to them." ( co2science.org )

"UN declares 2004 the International Year of Rice" - "31 October – In a major effort to spotlight a commodity whose production is failing to keep up with population growth, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) today declared 2004 the International Year of Rice.

"Almost a billion households in Asia, Africa and the Americas depend on rice systems for their main source of employment and livelihood," FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf said in launching the Year, the slogan for which is "Rice is life."

While the world's population was continuing to grow, however, land and water for rice production were diminishing and "its production is facing serious constraints," he said." (UN News)

"Animals Cloned for Food No Longer Draw Collective Yawn" - "The year was 1988. The photo of the three calves was displayed in newspapers and featured in television news. The calves were clones, created from prize Brangus cattle, and made to be eaten in a new business that, the news reports promised, could forever alter the way superior bulls and cows were produced. Nary a word about whether it was safe to eat clones, nary a peep from the Food and Drug Administration.

Scientists at two companies, the Granada Corporation and American Breeders Service, made and sold hundreds of cattle clones. Consumers bought their meat and ate it, unaware. Milk from clones was sold with no public outcry. In fact, said Dr. Mark West- husin, a cloning expert at Texas A&M, "there may be some cows out there still, producing milk."

These days, Granada and American Breeders are no longer in that cloning business. But cloning is back. And this time, the F.D.A. and consumer groups are involved, asking, Is it safe to eat a clone? Can you safely drink a clone's milk? If you breed a clone, can you eat its offspring?

Some consumer groups are wary and some industry groups said they wanted to be sure consumers would accept milk or meat from clones or clone offspring. Public interest groups are weighing in and the F.D.A. will hold a public meeting to air the issue. It expects to decide by next spring whether to regulate food from animal clones.

What changed?" (New York Times)

"Canadian Growers Warn UK Farmers of GMO Crop Risks" - "LONDON - Canadian farmers with first hand experience growing genetically modified (GMO) crops say the technology will damage Britain's booming organic food sector and leave fields strewn with "super weeds" grown from stray, leftover seeds." (Reuters)

"Biotechnology: A Solution for Ending Hunger and Poverty in Ghana" - "Ghana’s ratification of the Catagena protocol on bio-safety should have a significant meaning to food policy and poverty reduction in the country. In particular, it will help to deal with future population increases and their impact on land tenure and management in the country. The Catagena Protocol on Biosafety is an international treaty that sets up a comprehensive regulatory system for ensuring the safe development, transfer, handling and use of genetically modified organisms within and across state borders." (GhanaHomePage)

November 3, 2003

"Science on Trial" - "Jury selection began last week in California in a case where employees will argue that IBM knowingly exposed them to chemicals -- used in the manufacturing of chips and disc drives -- that caused a variety of cancers, birth defects and other ailments. If found liable, IBM faces hundreds of millions of dollars in damages.

IBM (and its suppliers) are the defendants here, but science is also on trial in this landmark case. Will the jurors be swayed by the emotional appeal of ailing workers? Or will they evaluate plaintiff claims in the context of sound science and epidemiology (the study of the cause of human disease)? The outcome of this trial has implications that go far beyond IBM. If science does not prevail, the semiconductor-electronics industry, which has fueled our nation's economy in recent decades, will come under legal assault -- and consumers, as usual, will end up assuming the costs in the form of higher prices and fewer innovations." (Dr. Elizabeth M Whelan, TCS)

"Doctors turn on each other as MMR debate rages again" - "Architects of autism study embroiled in bitter dispute" (The Guardian)

"U.S. companies brace for new European chemical rules" - "WASHINGTON - American industries are bracing for new European chemical-safety rules that companies say could snarl exports of U.S.-made chemicals in much the same way that Europe's opposition to genetically modified food has obstructed commerce in American grain." (Post-Dispatch)

Some people just can't be protected from themselves... "Taste for Raw Milk Multiplies in Wisconsin" - "EAST TROY, Wis. -- People come to Mark Zinniker's farm for milk they can't find in any grocery store. Zinniker and his customers believe in the healing power of unpasteurized milk -- also called raw milk. But it's illegal to buy, sell or give away in Wisconsin and about half of other states. ``In order for people to drink raw milk, they have to be questioning the system,'' Zinniker said. Raw milk producers and drinkers say they are following in the footsteps of organic food enthusiasts, who were once considered a fringe group, said Sandy Falun, president of the raw milk advocate group Weston A. Price Foundation in Washington." (AP)

Sadly, these ignorant sad sacks are likely the first in line as litigants against food producers when they (inevitably) suffer morbidities induced by their reckless behaviour.

"Trick or Treat?" - "High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) has become the latest goblin lurking in our foods.

The scary story goes like this: HFCS isn't the same as old-fashioned sugar -- it's not natural and therefore is dangerous. Responsible for the obesity epidemic, it not only makes us fat it's at the root of many of today's dietary evils. It's the sweetener found in sodas, canned fruits, ice creams, desserts and other processed foods that are bad for us. And, it's been put there by greedy corporate moguls in the food industry who've conspired with the government and our nation's farmers to dump cheap corn and make us fat. (I'm not making this stuff up.) Since it's 75 percent sweeter than conventional sugars, it's given us such sweet tooths that each of us now consumes about 150 pounds of sweeteners a year. A few decades ago we ate no HFCS, but we're now eating more fructose than ever before, accounting for just over half of our sweetener intake, or 62.6 pounds apiece annually.

It's enough to make your teeth hurt. But, the facts give a completely different story." (Sandy Szwarc, TCS)

"Senate rejects McCain-Lieberman global warming bill" - "Mandatory measures like McCain-Lieberman - and the more stringent laws that would inevitably follow - would harm not just the U.S. economy but also the economies of the poorest nations." (James K. Glassman, TCS)

"Editorial: Promising Vote on Global Warming" - "John McCain has failed in his first attempt to persuade his Republican colleagues in the Senate to give the issue of global warming the urgent attention it deserves. By a margin of 55 to 43 on Thursday, the Senate rejected a proposal he sponsored with Joseph Lieberman to impose mandatory caps on the emissions from utilities and other industries that scientists believe are heavily responsible for global warming.

The bill is in fact a modest version of the 1997 Kyoto accord, which President Bill Clinton embraced but Mr. Bush rejected. Kyoto would indeed have required big changes in how we use and produce energy, as any determined assault on global warming eventually must. But McCain-Lieberman aims merely to accustom the nation gently to doing business in a different way. One suspects that the Senate will someday wake up to the fact that the White House sees bogymen where none exist." (New York Times)

And one fervently hopes that Times' editorial writers will someday wake up to the fact that the allegedly-looming global warming apocalypse is the non-extant bogeyman.

"Strike four on Kyoto" - "Thought the Kyoto Protocol to curb global warming was dead? Think again. At least that's what Sens. John McCain, Arizona Republican, and Joseph Lieberman, Connecticut Democrat, were hoping. In what many thought was a Halloween trick, the two senators tried to bring Kyoto back from the dead with a bill — the "Climate Stewardship Act" — that sought to unilaterally impose many of Kyoto's restrictions. This despite the fact Kyoto had already experienced three strikes. Let's call this 55-43 defeat strike four." (Pete du Pont, The Washington Times)

New Scientist eventually picked this up: "Sun more active than for a millennium" - "The Sun is more active now than it has been for a millennium. The realisation, which comes from a reconstruction of sunspots stretching back 1150 years, comes just as the Sun has thrown a tantrum. Over the last week, giant plumes of have material burst out from our star's surface and streamed into space, causing geomagnetic storms on Earth.

The dark patches on the surface of the Sun that we call sunspots are a symptom of fierce magnetic activity inside. Ilya Usoskin, a geophysicist who worked with colleagues from the University of Oulu in Finland and the Max Planck Institute for Aeronomy in Katlenburg-Lindau, Germany, has found that there have been more sunspots since the 1940s than for the past 1150 years." (New Scientist)

"[Australia] A bleak outlook for our climate" - "VICTORIA'S average annual temperatures will rise by up to 6C, rainfall will decline, and snowfields will shrink over the next 70 years. The CSIRO has forecast more droughts, more extreme heat in summer and winter, and an increased risk of droughts and bushfires. Greenhouse emissions, ozone depletion, and natural climate changes, such as El Nino, will contribute to dramatic change across the state." (Sunday Herald sun)

"Kyoto debunked" - "This has been a nightmare of a year for aficionados of the Kyoto Accord. After Canada's ratification of the treaty in late 2002, environmentalists had every reason to believe that few climate experts would dare continue to publicly oppose Kyoto's science, Russia would quickly ratify the accord and it soon would become international law.

Instead, as illustrated at this month's World Climate Change Conference in Moscow, exactly the opposite has happened. The growing number of scientists who dispute the treaty's scientific foundation have become increasingly vocal, regularly pushing their case in the media as groundbreaking studies continue to be published that pull the rug out from under Kyoto's shaky edifice." (Tim Patterson, Financial Post)

"As Uses Grow, Tiny Materials' Safety Is Hard to Pin Down" - "When researchers fashion nanomaterials so small that their dimensions can be measured in molecules, the unusual and potentially valuable characteristics of those materials tend to show up immediately. But as businesses race to exploit those benefits, investors and policy makers are finding that pinpointing the potential environmental and health impacts of nanotechnology could take years.

In fact, the first stages of environmental impact research are generating more new questions than answers." (New York Times)

"Saving Seeds Subjects Farmers to Suits Over Patent" - "TUPELO, Miss., Oct. 30 — Homan McFarling has been farming here all his life, growing mostly soybeans along with a little corn. After each harvest, he puts some seed aside. "Every farmer that ever farmed has saved some of his seed to plant again," he said. In 1998, Mr. McFarling bought 1,000 bags of genetically altered soybean seeds, and he did what he had always done. But the seeds, called Roundup Ready, are patented. When Monsanto, which holds the patent, learned what Mr. McFarling had sown, it sued him in federal court in St. Louis for patent infringement and was awarded $780,000. The company calls the planting of saved seed piracy, and it says it has won millions of dollars from farmers in lawsuits and settlements in such cases. Mr. McFarling's is the first to reach a federal appeals court, which will consider how the law should reconcile patented food with a practice as old as farming itself." (New York Times)

"Shoppers wary of GM - if they read labels" - "New research shows that food companies will have to cut their prices if they want to sell genetically modified food in Europe - if consumers bother to read the labels. Professor Bernard Ruffieux, of France's Institut National Polytechnique de Grenoble, has found that more than three-quarters of a typical sample of French consumers would either refuse to buy, or want to pay less for, a packet of biscuits containing genetically modified soy. Just over a third (35 per cent) would refuse to buy it at all. Slightly more people (42 per cent) would still buy it, but only if the price was, on average, 28 per cent lower than the equivalent biscuits without the GM soy. However, in another experiment with chocolate bars, he found that 98 per cent of consumers did not notice the small print on the packet that said the product had been genetically modified until he told them." (New Zealand Herald)

"Study: Spring wheat export revenue would be lost to GM growers" - "Spring wheat producers in the United States could lose 30 to 50 percent of their export market if genetically modified wheat is introduced commercially, a study released Thursday concludes. The price of spring wheat would drop by one-third, says Robert Wisner, a professor of economics at Iowa State University who completed the analysis for the Western Organization of Resource Councils. “The issue is not one of safety,” Wisner said during a teleconference outline of his study. “It is about consumer attitudes and labeling programs in other countries that give consumers a choice.” (Billings Gazette)

"Crop researchers: Secrecy necessary" - "KILAUEA, Hawaii — Louisa Wooton earns a living selling organically grown tropical fruits on her family's three-acre farm in Kilauea, Kauai. As far as she knows, genetically modified crops — the polar opposite of hers — are field-tested miles away at research facilities run by agribusiness giants such as Pioneer Hi-Bred and Monsanto. That doesn't alleviate her fears that biologically engineered crops could contaminate her produce, since many details about where genetic crop research occurs, or even what is being done in Hawaii, are confidential. Crop researchers maintain that the secrecy is needed to protect their proprietary work from competitors and shield their crops from eco-terrorists. The closely held information, however, breeds suspicion." (The Honolulu Advertiser)

"[Kenya] Trade in GM crops may be allowed soon" - "Genetically modified crops may soon be available for commercial use in Kenya. A biosafety framework workshop for Members of Parliament was yesterday told that trials on the crops were going on. The crops under trial are sweet potatoes, maize and cotton. Several other food security crops will be put under trial once a Bio-safety Bill becomes law." (Daily Nation)